Food Culture in France

France. Cartography by Bookcomp, Inc.

Food Culture in


Food Culture around the World Ken Albala, Series Editor

GREENWOOD PRESS Westport, Connecticut · London

The publisher accepts no responsibility for the outcome of any recipe included in this volume. without the express written consent of the publisher. p. I. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2006031524 ISBN-10: 0–313–32797–1 ISBN-13: 978–0–313–32797–1 ISSN: 1545–2638 First published in 2007 Greenwood Press. Food habits—France. Printed in the United States of America The paper used in this book complies with the Permanent Paper Standard issued by the National Information Standards Organization (Z39. Copyright © 2007 by Julia Abramson All rights reserved. Julia. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 The publisher has done its best to make sure the instructions and/or recipes in this book are correct.greenwood. Inc. Title. ISSN 1545–2638) Includes bibliographical references and index. No portion of this book may be reproduced.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Abramson. 88 Post Road West. ISBN 0–313–32797–1 (alk. CT 06881 An imprint of Greenwood Publishing Group. 2. Westport. TX719. However. especially parents and teachers working with young people. cm. French. by any process or technique. www.—(Food culture around the world. paper) 1.48–1984). Food culture in France / Julia Abramson. users should apply judgment and experience when preparing recipes.5'944—dc22 2006031524 British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data is available. .A237 2007 641.

Cooking 4. Historical Overview 2. Special Occasions 7.Contents Series Foreword Acknowledgments Introduction Timeline 1. Eating Out 6. Major Foods and Ingredients 3. Diet and Health vii ix xi xiii 1 41 81 103 117 137 155 169 171 175 185 Glossary Resource Guide Selected Bibliography Index . Typical Meals 5.


come to esteem or shun specific foods. In comprehensive interdisciplinary reference volumes. resource guide. and foodies alike. Major Foods and Ingredients. Special Occasions. Food provides the daily sustenance around which families and communities bond. with a chronology of food-related dates and narrative chapters entitled Introduction. Typical Meals. each on the food culture of a country or region for which information is most in demand. I am honored to have been associated with this project as series editor. bibliography.Series Foreword The appearance of the Food Culture around the World series marks a definitive stage in the maturation of Food Studies as a discipline to reach a wider audience of students. its values. Historical Overview. general readers. Cooking. and fears. and Diet and Health. It provides the material basis for rituals through which people celebrate the passage of life stages and their connection to divinity. Eating Out. and illustrations. and develop unique cuisines reveals much more about what it is to be human. Finding or growing food has of course been the major preoccupation of our species throughout history. but how various peoples around the world learn to exploit their natural resources. preoccupations. There is perhaps no better way to understand a culture. a remarkable team of experts from around the world offers a deeper understanding and appreciation of the role of food in shaping human culture for a whole new generation. Each also includes a glossary. Each volume follows a series format. than by examining its attitudes toward food. Food preferences also serve to separate individuals .

or going out to a famous Michelin-starred restaurant in France. whether from our own heritage or that of others. folding tamales with friends in Mexico. but also about ourselves and who we hope to be. we physically. To know how and why these losses occur today also enables us to decide what traditions. emotionally and spiritually become what we eat.viii Series Foreword and groups from each other. we wish to keep alive. Ken Albala University of the Pacific . Whether it is eating New Year’s dumplings in China. and as one of the most powerful factors in the construction of identity. What seems strange or frightening among other people becomes perfectly rational when set in context. By studying the foodways of people different from ourselves we also grow to understand and tolerate the rich diversity of practices around the world. It is my hope that readers will gain from these volumes not only an aesthetic appreciation for the glories of the many culinary traditions described. understanding these food traditions helps us to understand the people themselves. As globalization proceeds apace in the twenty-first century it is also more important than ever to preserve unique local and regional traditions. but also ultimately a more profound respect for the peoples who devised them. In many cases these books describe ways of eating that have already begun to disappear or have been seriously transformed by modernity. These books are thus not only about the food and culture of peoples around the world.

and it is for my parents. and Wendi Schnaufer. Discerning eaters and accomplished cooks. and thoughtful participants in the culture of their own country. Beatrice Fink. generous hosts. and precision to what must have seemed like endless questions about her family life. Alison Matthews-David. that to my cousin Charlotte Berger-Grenèche and to Franç ois Depoil is by far the greatest. I am grateful to Kyri Watson Claflin. Ken Albala. I have been traveling regularly to France to live and work. Through her good humor this book has been much enriched. Norman Stillman.Acknowledgments For two decades and more. and Charles Walton. In this time. their conversation and friendship. wit. I am profoundly grateful for this hospitality and for these many personalized introductions to the food cultures of France. This book is for them. Of all my debts. many people have opened their doors to me and shared their meals and food lore. who read drafts of these chapters. . Layla Roesler responded with grace. Thanks are due to the wonderfully supportive community of scholars interested in food history and in France. Barbara Ketcham Wheaton. senior editor at the Press. Charlotte and Franç ois more than anyone else have taught me what it means to eat à la française. Young shared with me their enthusiasm for French food and have steadfastly encouraged mine. and Carolin C. to research and write. made it possible for me to write this book. editor for the Greenwood Press world food culture series. Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson. convivial. who nourished my interest in food from the very beginning.

I thank the undergraduate students who have taken my seminars on food and culture (Honors College) and on French food and film (Program in Film and Video Studies) and the graduate students in my course on French gastronomic literature (Department of Modern Languages. Janine Depoil. Pamela Genova. Helga Madland. At the University of Oklahoma a special thank you goes to Paul Bell. Finally.x Acknowledgments For the photographs I am indebted to Philippe Bornier. and of course to Sarah Tracy. and their questions usually led us all directly to the heart of the matter. Nadine Leick. Arnold Matthews. and conversation across cultures. hard work. and frank questions. Literatures. and Christian Verdet. For their enthusiastic participation. Many of the passages in this book were written with my students in mind. My warm thanks especially to Hervé Depoil for doing le maxi. Zev Trachtenberg. Andy Horton. and Linguistics). Their unfailing intellectual curiosity fueled my own enthusiasm for the topics covered in this volume. colleagues and students at the university where I have taught for the last seven years have supported my engagement in the study of food history and cultures. food. Hervé Depoil. Edward Sankowski. They have been generous beyond measure for the sake of friendship. .

M. soothing. Arm-chair travelers will have read the great American chronicles of life and food in France. as well. the many French cookbooks published in the United States since the mid-twentieth century have guided experiments in the kitchen. Snails and frogs feature in the cuisine. For those who dine out. Of course. For curious home cooks. The export of Champagne and adaptations of the breakfast croissant have made these items standard units in the international food currency.K. and stimulating. Nonetheless.Introduction Nearly every American has some idea about French food. What interested eater would not be moved by French food? In poorer kitchens. Fisher’s memoirs. The subtle coherence of flavors and the dignified unfolding of the several-course meals that are now standard are at once seductive. affluence has reshaped the diet for much of the French population. however. glamorous restaurant meal is often a French one. a bite of milky crisp fresh almond. or a fragrant piece of baguette still warm from the oven has perhaps been a gastronomic revelation. Since the Second World War.F. it is an error to imagine that these murky creatures play a large role in everyday eating. such as Samuel Chamberlain’s columns in the early issues of Gourmet magazine. For those who have traveled abroad. and tantalizing sausages. generations of resourceful cooks have perfected ingenious yet practical ways of transforming the meanest bits of meat and aging root vegetables into rich stews. and Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. nourishing soups. a plate of silky foie gras. the ideal for an elegant. people are much . a few clichés persist.

and desperately unhealthy. to recent studies by ethnologists and sociologists. does this population of productive. The bibliography at the end of the volume lists the references consulted for each chapter and includes a list of cookbooks. public policy addressing food quality. to the writings of historians and cultural critics. As the aim has been to provide a three-dimensional picture of food customs. the approach is inclusive. at noon. trends in restaurant cooking. including workday meals. yet in fact enjoy an unusually high standard of health. The chapters that follow draw on a wide range of sources. Why is it that the different dishes in an everyday meal are eaten successively in separate courses. That the French drink only rarefied bottled spring waters (when not drinking wine)is in fact one of the new myths. when the country actually has the best-developed and most heavily used canteen system in Europe? Food Culture in France answers these questions and many others. The recipes that appear in the text correspond to a few of the typical dishes that come under discussion. hard-working. secular individualists march practically in lockstep to the dining room. It is hoped that these resources as well as the selection of Web sites and films will provide the reader with a point of departure for further exploration. causing nearly everything from Dunkerque to Cannes to grind to a halt for the sacred lunch break? Why do the French themselves regard eating lunch in school and business cafeterias as an anomaly. from meal to meal. the book also treats the issues of why and how foods are eaten. an attempt is made to provide both the historical information necessary to illuminate contemporary food culture and full descriptions of today’s practices. To understand the full significance of the table customs. celebration meals. although these are practically a national treasure. and changing views of wine. from cookbooks and personal experience. attitudes toward health. Throughout. as a nation? Why. Bonne lecture (happy reading) and bon appétit! . rather than appearing on the table all at once? How is it possible to eat this succession of foods without becoming uncomfortably full. So what do the 60 million French of today really eat on a daily basis? Here is the essential question that this book addresses.xii Introduction more likely to shop for food at one of the many discount stores than at picturesque outdoor markets. over time? How is it that the French cultivate pleasure rather than count calories.

16. 30. Iron Age Celts fit iron cutting edges on ploughs used to till soil. Reindeer retreat to colder northern regions. 10.C. improving farm production. Forests provide berries. and millet.E. Old Stone Age nomads hunt big game and gather plants for food.E. ca.C.E. Humans eat mollusks. 6000 B. make hunting easier.E.Timeline ca. 800 B. chestnuts. Forest animals such as deer and wild boar multiply.000 B.C. barley. corn.C.C. Greek merchants from Phocaea establish a colony at Massilia (Marseille) where they plant olive trees for oil and grape vines for wine. 600 B.E.E.000 B.E. and hazelnuts. cattle. The bow and arrow.000–14. Food sources change as glaciers recede.C. 8000 B. including snails.000–9000 B. .C. Charcoal and ochre drawings of bulls and reindeer in the Lascaux Caves in the Dordogne show main Ice Age food sources. and the companionship of domesticated dogs. New Stone Age people farm and tend herds. elements in the Mediterranean diet. Domesticates include sheep. goats.

C.C. Flemish and Italian merchants arrive with spices and other exotics. The population grows.000 cubic yards) of water to urban areas. Saint William of Gellone. Legend has it that he concealed his troops in wine barrels. cloves. The abbot Adalhard of Corbie records that monks are adding hops flowers to their ale. geese (Artois). A Roman-style forum or market and public meeting space is added to each Gallic town. Cannibalism and crime follow widespread famines. In The History of the Franks (593–94). mace and nutmeg. Gallic regional specialties include grain (Beauce). 1204 1150–1310 1315.000 cubic meters (about 26. Languedoc). Louis VI (The Fat) allows fishmongers to set up stands outside his palace walls in Paris.E. 481–511 C. 585 780 822 1000–1300 1110 1148. cinnamon. Knights and soldiers return from the First and Second Crusades bringing lemons and spices: saffron. Renaissance elites are conspicuous consumers. People clear forest and drain marshland to cultivate grains for bread. one of Charlemagne’s paladins.xiv 51 B. making true beer. Timeline Julius Caesar annexes Gallic lands to the Empire. The Roman-engineered Pont-du-Gard aqueduct daily transports 20. City and monastic trade fairs in the Champagne region are international.E. and wine (Roussillon. sheep (Ardennes). 1317 1341 1468 . The Salic legal code issued in Paris under King Clovis specifies punishments for anyone who attacks a neighbor’s grape vines. The site becomes the market Les Halles. ginger. The Valois monarch Philip VI (1293–1350) introduces the grande gabelle (salt tax) in the north.E. cardamom. Famine forces innovation in bread-making. chronicler Gregory of Tours notes that people supplemented wheat flour with pounded grape seeds and ferns. forces Saracen warriors to retreat from the southern territories. The feast for Charles the Bold of Burgundy’s wedding 19 B. cumin. and sugar.

100 peacocks. François Pierre de La Varenne publishes the cookbook Le Cuisinier françois.640 swans. Suleiman Aga. but Louis XIV (1643–1715) uses his fingers to eat. Peasant families who survived the bubonic plague and Hundred Years War and Wars of Religion clear land to plant new crops: cold-hardy buckwheat and New World maize. but chaircutiers (charcutiers) sell cooked and cured pork and raw pork fat. peppers. 1486 1492–1494. 63 pigs. 1600 1606 1651 1667 1669 1672 1681 1685 . For flavoring. the first successful café in France and still in business today.668 wolves. 2.500 calves. Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus encounters foods hitherto unknown in the Old World: sweet potatoes.600 shoulders of mutton. 2. Coffee is sold at a temporary café at the St. 2. Turkish ambassador to the court of Louis XIV.Timeline xv includes 200 oxen.” Hunger and poverty are widespread. Physicist Denys Papin. 3. 1. he privileges herbs and onions over spices. in residence in England. 1502 1534 ca. 11. 3. Henri IV (1589–1610) declares his wish that “every peasant may have a chicken in the pot on Sundays. Massive feasts are central to the social satire. chocolate. and vanilla. and the country reverts to strict observance of Catholic feast and fast days. will open in Paris. Physician and priest François Rabelais publishes the novel Gargantua. 18. serves coffee at Versailles.500 sheep.000 pounds of lard. Courtiers now use forks. Germain fair. Protestants flee. 1476 King Louis XI (1461–1483) decrees that butchers slaughter pigs and sell raw pork. invents the pressure cooker. about a race of giants. Louis XIV revokes the Edict of Nantes (1598). The manuscript Le Viandier by Guillaume de Tirel (Taillevent) appears in print as an early cookbook. The “digester” efficiently reduces solid foods nearly to liquid. Within the decade the Café Procope.800 chickens. and 1.640 pigeons. maize.

Louis XVI sends troops against the newly formed National Assembly. They concede to his demands for the restored Bourbon monarch. Two years later he modernizes the meal: he recommends serving dishes one by one in sequence. Louis XV (1715–1774) favors small.” Pictures of apples and cider bottles in Normandy and ducks at Alençon visually connect taste to place. He preserves meats. Grimod de la Reynière publishes the first narrative restaurant guide for Paris. Peasants and urban dwellers riot to protest grain shortages. Modern-style restaurants. so that they can be enjoyed hot.xvi 1709 1735 Timeline An unusually cold winter sets in early and kills crops. open in Paris. the naturalist AntoineAuguste Parmentier promotes the still-unpopular potato as an alternative to grains. diplomat. and fruits to provision Napoleon’s troops. Cadet de Gassicourt publishes a “gastronomic map. and a mob retorts by attacking the Bastille prison. Nicolas Appert opens a vacuum-bottling factory. la gabelle. The 1760s 1775 1785 1787 1789 1790 1793 1803 1804 1808 1814–1815 . intimate suppers over state banquets and personally makes omelets and coffee for selected guests. which costs nearly 60 percent of their income. Louis XVIII. bishop. with menus and private tables. In prison since late January 1791. Rioting abounds during the Revolution and hunger is prevalent. With the help of Louis XVI. and noted gourmand CharlesMaurice de Talleyrand-Périgord wines and dines European ministers. vegetables. At the Congress of Vienna after the Napoleonic wars. Louis XVI dies at the guillotine. he has been eating several-course meals while famine plagues France. Famine and grain riots break out. The National Assembly abolishes the hated and much-abused salt tax. Most people subsist on bread.

1859 1861 1870 1870s 1883 1892 1903 1905 1919 1927 1940 1943 . Tunisia (1881). Ferdinand Carré demonstrates his ammonia absorbtion unit. The law will stand until it is integrated into the European food safety code in 1993. with several-course meals served in elegant restaurant cars. Louis Pasteur applies heat and pressure to sterilize milk. the technology that was the basis for the first industrial refrigerators.” France capitulates to Germany during the Second World War. Prussian troops occupy the capital.200 calories per day per person. Chef Auguste Escoffier publishes Le guide culinaire. Jules Méline draws up protectionist tariffs for agricultural production. The black market for food flourishes. Bread is rationed. Parliament rules that only wine bottled within the demarcated Champagne area may be labeled as “Champagne. 1830 French forces take Algiers. Indochina (1859–1863). Food prices are at a premium. The colonial empire will expand to include Senegal (1857). which simplifies and systematizes the sauces and cooking methods that compose elegant cuisine. Import duties on sugar make it unaffordable to most. A new federal law prohibits fraud in the sale of food. Under German occupation during the Vichy period. The Orient Express makes its inaugural run from Paris to Constantinople. Meat prices escalate. The network of trains encourages peasants to farm beyond self-sufficiency and to specialize. and desperate Parisians resort to eating zoo animals. Life expectancy drops by eight years. Grape phylloxerae devastate vines across France. rationing allows for 1.Timeline xvii great chef Marie-Antoine Carême is Talleyrand’s right-hand man for political strategy at table. and Morocco (1912).

The weekly newspaper Le Monde runs a column on dining called “The Pleasures of the Table” signed “La Reynière. The Tour d’Argent restaurant in Paris serves its onemillionth canard à presse (roasted pressed duck). and the presence of immigrant cultures.xviii 1949 Timeline Bread rationing is lifted. All automatic vending machines are gone from public schools by the time the fall term begins. Press reports defend the national cuisine in a society marked by Europeanization. Consumption of chicken drops in March. Chef Michel Guérard serves cuisine minceur—light or diet food—at his spa and restaurant. 1965 1977 1990s 1999 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 . To protest against junk food and the presence of foreign corporate interests in the local food chain. then rises again. avoids salt and animal fats. and favors lean meats. Half of all French households own a refrigerator. The law (of August 2004) that called for this measure aimed to reduce the consumption of sweets and sugared drinks associated with rising obesity levels among children and young people. globalization. Avian flu detected in chickens in Pas-de-Calais. the First Empire restaurant guide author.” Robert Courtine’s pseudonym evokes Grimod de la Reynière. Debate continues over whether genetically modified foods and advertising for fast food should be banned in France and Europe. farmer José Bové vandalizes a partially constructed McDonald’s restaurant in Millau. He emphasizes small portions. Chef Paul Bocuse and baker Lionel Poilâne unsuccessfully lobby Pope John Paul II to remove gourmandise (gluttony) from the list of the Seven Deadly Sins. vegetables. and fruits.

in addition to hunting.000 years ago. and leaves.E. then as tended crops. Chauvet.) paintings on cave walls from about 35. In cooler northern regions. . rye and oats flourished. Around 8000 B.C. rhinoceros. When climate change caused the extinction of big game. and goats were also kept and may have been moved according to the same practice of transhumance. Cosquer.1 Historical Overview ORIGINS The earliest peoples in what is now France likely garnered the largest portion of their food from plants.E.E. Paleolithic or Old Stone Age (earliest times to 6000 B. About 500. They herded cattle. at Lascaux. People now cultivated emmer and einkorn (old types of wheat) and naked barley.C. Font-de-Gaume.C. Stone Age peoples domesticated dogs as hunting companions. The innovations of agriculture and pottery that define the Neolithic period came west from the Fertile Crescent to Europe in about 6000 B. These hunter-gatherers foraged in field and forest for berries. Peas. and Niaux show animal food sources and other creatures—lions. nuts. mammoths—that probably had spiritual significance.C. people made a gradual transition from foraging for food to farming.E. During the New Stone Age. During winter. they hunted horses and aurochs. sheep. they stored extra grain in pits dug into the ground and in pots. roots. first as wild grasses. nomadic forerunners of modern humans ranged north from Africa into western Europe. chickpeas. and lentils came under cultivation. Pigs.000 B. sometimes grazing the herds seasonally in different locations. Neolithic populations managed animals.000 to 15.

bronze (about 1800–700 B. and heating mixtures by dropping in hot rocks. After the required sacrifices had been made to appease the gods. eels. wine. shell.E. The ideal diet of classical antiquity was based on three cultivated foods: wheat. along with the all-purpose salty flavoring sauce garos (Roman garum or liquamen) made of fermented fish. hedgehog. In the colonial centers of Greek civilization. and valued conversation as an integral part of the meal. People made wide-mouthed vessels using bits of bone. The grains were eaten as porridge or baked into bread or unleavened biscuit if ovens were available. grapes. The end of the Neolithic period saw the incorporation of metals into the arsenal of tools. beaver. shared banquet in a private home drank wine mixed with water only after eating. pork). The use of copper.E. sand. hare. a few Phocaeans (Greeks from Asia Minor) looking for new territory established colonies that they called Massilia (Marseille) and Agde. The invention of pottery changed cooking and storage in the New Stone Age. the building blocks for most meals were barley or wheat and pulses.) mark shifts toward technology that maintained more populous civilizations.). including cooking implements.2 Food Culture in France Boar.E. When the Phocaeans arrived in the new colonies with their vines and fruit. meat was carefully distributed or else sold off in portions equal in size. and oil.C. the Greeks had developed the civilization that underpins much of Western culture. Wealthy Greeks loved meat (beef. The additions strengthened the clay so that the pots could be placed directly on a fire. This added another technique to spit-roasting.C. During the Age of Metals. and olives. Pulses in the everyday diet . with little concern for cut or texture. and then iron (from about 700 B. but it was not considered everyday fare. elite diners participating in a symposion or convivial. Fish. including literary and philosophical traditions and both urban and pastoral ways of life. flint. and the large domesticates were killed ceremonially. Populations living on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts and on rivers harvested shellfish and fish. Cheese featured frequently in meals. and quantities of snails added to the list of animal protein eaten in the Neolithic period. and shellfish were eaten. drying. GREEKS ON THE CÔTE D’AZUR In about 600 B. bringing their eating customs and essential foods. smoking. this was the earliest introduction of the Mediterranean diet based on bread. lamb.C. or grog (pulverized burnt clay) as a tempering medium. For the common person.

and developed advanced metalworking techniques such as soldering and the use of rivets. the Romans would name them Gauls. cups. so did their institutions. The land was left as open fields that members of the tribe worked in common. governance was decentralized within tribes headed by a warrior elite and the families that composed each tribe. cauldrons. The Greeks called these peoples Galatai or Keltoi. and ale. apples. gourds. the Celts in Gaul probably numbered between 6 and 9 million. Figs and grapes. As the cities grew. CELTIC ANCESTORS Tribes of Indo-Europeans that originated in Hallstadt (present-day Austria) and swept west by around 700 B. including places for eating out such as kapêleia or taverns that served wine and inexpensive bar food. plums. Celts in northern Europe mined iron and lead. and fava or broad beans. goats. Greeks brought with them knowledge of the all-important vegetables onion. The city of Paris derives its name from the Celtic Parisii tribe that settled in the Île-de-France. Celts ate meat primarily from domesticated oxen or cattle and pigs. They did not construct a unified empire or kingdom. milk. giving the name Celts.C. quinces. They cultivated cabbages. Many of the Celtic deities such as the matrons or mother-goddesses were associated with fertility and with flowers. Sheep. At their most populous. pears. developed a diet based on meat. and reapers. including flagons. grills. and grains.000 square kilometers (about 450 to 750 square miles). including a benevolent druid. and early forms of cauliflower and lettuce. and dogs were less common. Tribes occupied swathes of land that measured about 1. There is a popular idea that Celts feasted constantly on roast wild boar. horses. harrows. and pomegranates were the bestknown fruits. they manufactured innovative iron ploughs. They wrought a range of cooking and eating utensils. which were made into salads and cooked dishes. gold and silver.Historical Overview 3 included lentils.E. bowls. fruits. and serving platters. Celtic civilization was based on farming and animal husbandry. chickpeas. garlic.200 to 2. Children know this story from the famous cartoons that Goscinny and Uderzo published beginning in the early 1960s about the rotund character Astérix the Gaul and friends. spits. It is certainly true that . and capers. It appears that they domesticated the hare and species of ducks and geese. carrots. To support farming. Rather. as well as grains. The prehistoric Celts (their language was oral) have a special place in the collective imagination as the ancestors of the modern French.

but they could not get enough of the heady southern wines that they traded up from Massilia and Rome. Where the Greeks and Romans kept wine in amphorae (clay jars). wine drunk by the Celts must have developed some flavors like those prized by today’s oenophiles. fat from meat and milk (lard. The legions butted heads with the tribes for two centuries before the general Julius Caesar was sent to quell them. and vegetables. Since the inception of the republic in the fifth century B. Urban Romans were consumers in need of provisions.C. and smoking.E. remarked in his Deipnosophistae (Professors at Dinner. olive oil. 200–230) that the Celts were heavy drinkers who tossed back their wine undiluted with water. and tools. Athenaeus.. They mined salt and developed techniques for preserving meat and fish through salting. but hunting was restricted to elites.E. and Celts hunted them in self-defense. Meats. and cool-weather grains associated with the Celts typified the diet in what later became northern France. North Africa. wine. Exposed to wooden barrels.E. for their part. Stored in amphorae. the tribes relied on their fields and barnyards. The familiarity bred by commerce between the different populations also prepared the way for Rome’s annexation of Celtic lands to the Empire in 51 B. productive Celtic territories were a temptation not to be resisted by the Romans. meat products.C.C. drank milk from their herds. They made cheeses. Bellicose Cisalpine (from “this side of the Alps. Celts traded metal jewelry. drying. and made incursions elsewhere. and brewed ale (beer without hops) from grain. They cultivated some grapes in the north. cheese. and Arabia as provinces.E. Ties between the Celtic and the Mediterranean civilizations enlarged the diets. he won a decisive victory against the Gallic . amber and salt. ROMAN GAUL The fertile.4 Food Culture in France wild boar roamed the forests. the Greek writer from Naucratis (Egypt) who moved to Rome at the end of the first century. and the constantly campaigning legions of the vast military machine required a solid diet of wheat bread. ingots. Butchers specialized in making hams and sausages and were greatly admired for their facility with curing pork.C.” nearest Rome) populations sacked Rome in 387 (or 390) B. meat.E.C. coins. and slaves with neighboring tribes and with other populations. subsuming far-off Dacia (Romania). wine took on the pitchy or resinous flavor of the jar seal. Rome ballooned. Celts. provoked ravenous Rome. Celts used wooden barrels for more convenient storage and transport. butter).. the first imperial dynasty was established in 27 B. hides from their animals. For food. Syria. In 52 B. ca. as they periodically migrated in search of land.

Roman trade provided links even to India and China. they politely touched food only with the right hand. The gustatio or promulsis (first course) featured vegetables. phlegm) as the way to maintain good health. The Romans built roads for their military but also to the benefit of traders. the Greek physician Galen. and bull-fighting. Emmer. with a courtyard and triclinium or dining room. who worked in the Roman context during the second century. which were supposed to be balanced through diet. At least for the wealthiest eaters. operas. attitudes toward diet and health were shaped by the prevailing theory of the humors. The food at a convivium or dinner party could be elaborate. Continuing Hippocratic tradition. plays. dry. A cena (fancy dinner) finished with mensae secundae or fruits. The colony at Massilia was a destination for Romans as for Romanized Celts—Gallo-Romans—who sought an education and cosmopolitan finish. and spelt were available in Gaul. aqueducts (such as the Pont-du-Gard and those built to supply Vienne). gastronomic specialties from across the Empire. Propped up on their left elbows. and the agricultural riches of Gaul itself. Amphitheatres at Orange. cold. Sophisticated wine drinkers tracked yearly variations in quality. and the remains of public baths also persist. yellow bile. with anywhere from two to seven courses. recommended choosing foods with qualities (hot. with the usual military outposts throughout. They undertook huge public projects in durable stone for the cities. trade enlarged the food choice provided by the local produce. Greek ways were considered the most elegant and civilized. and so a few people had knowledge of quite exotic foods. The mensae primae (main course or courses) offered meats and poultry and were accompanied by wine mixed with water. the “three Gauls” or large divisions of Celtic territories had become provinces. dining habits at their most luxurious drew on Greek manners. soft and hard wheats. Nîmes. Rivers demarcated Gallia Belgica from Celtica (later Gallia Lugdunensis) and Aquitania. and Arles are still used today for concerts. and desserts. and the oppida or hill-forts for civitates or administrative structures. wet) appropriate for one’s personal balance of the four bodily humors (blood. A year later. Using the old tribal divisions of land as a basis for latifundia or large farms with attached estates. Eating customs evolved from the Roman adaptations of Greek precedents. fish. they centralized political conduits. and they sought vintages from the best locations across the . nuts. City walls. Elegant diners reclined rather than sat. Beyond the Rhine lay Germania and to the south Provincia (later Narbonnensis) and Cisalpina.Historical Overview 5 leader Vercingétorix. Wealthy citizens designed their houses to follow the Roman style. The Romans did much to unify and urbanize Celtic lands. Among the educated. For Gallo-Romans. and eggs. black bile.

FRANKS FROM RHINELAND As the exhausted. Figs. During the last imperial centuries. partridges. chestnuts. Celts. juniper berries (native to Gaul). thyme. decadent emperors. rocket. For vegetables. the Romans encouraged British Celts to migrate back to the Continent to defend depopulated Brittany. Today. parsley. cumin. myrtle. bass. lettuces. bringing a new wave of northern influence on diet. overextended Roman Empire crumbled during the fourth century. pears. The Roman army that defeated Attila the Hun in 451 near Troyes was anchored by tribal Germans—Franks. and beets. Among the herbs and spices. traded from India in exchange for gold. grapes. and scallops. Guinea fowl (originally from Numidia). The Mediterranean gave fish and shellfish including mackerel. gourds. and pheasant gave eggs and provided roasts. The list of fruits and nuts grew ever longer as produce was imported from afar. In the late third and fourth centuries. plague. Spices were valued as flavorings in elite cooking. mint. Federations and alliances already existed among Germans. arbutus fruits. bay. some were used in perfumes.or smoke-dried raisins were basics.6 Food Culture in France provinces. Latin penetrated even to rural areas. By about the fifth century. Germanic tribes crossed west over the Rhine River to settle in Gaul. cucumbers. and Gallo-Romans. Snails were popular. and Burgundians. and coriander. rue. In the modern language. saffron. goats. Garum or fish sauce—made off the Atlantic coast from fermented mackerel and tuna—and allec or fish pickle were common. octopus. Sorb apples (related to serviceberries). walnuts. preparing the way for the development of French. and famine added to the general unrest and misery. caraway. lovage nearly always combined with black or long pepper. mallow. contributing to urban decline. oysters from present-day Brittany and Normandy were esteemed a delicacy. hazelnuts. The tribal leader Odoacer the Goth deposed the last Roman emperor in the . pistachios. apples. peaches (from Persia). During the fifth century. and cows gave milk for cheese as well as meat. and wild boar and deer caught on the hunt were prized. Domestic sheep. and sun. crushing taxes. and pine nuts (pine kernels) were eaten. tuna. Other herbs included rosemary. sea urchin. Visigoths. the Celtic heritage echoes primarily in words that pertain to agriculture and in place names. sour cherries. Gallic elites left the cities. the few remaining Breton speakers trace their culture back to the Celts. hens. asparagus. turnips. wrasse. Germanic Visigoths crossed out of Italy and were settled in Gallic Aquitaine. mustard. there were leeks. pennyroyal. dates. celery seed.

Hardy spelt. the favored beverage. Franks made hard cider from apples and grew rye. some Germanic pagan rites required the conspicuous display of ale casks in the middle of dwellings. was the preferred grain. in contrast to the Germans. Romanized Gauls considered themselves elegant and civilized. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. they farmed and herded in the intervening years. They hunted game and ate domesticated meat. like the Celts. They took pride in Gallic particularities and in the classical heritage. including poultry.Historical Overview 7 Shellfish merchant bringing coastal oysters and mussels to the Saint Antoine market in Lyon. although lower in yield and in gluten than wheat. This is clear . using barley or oats to thicken the mixture. and the men also used butter to condition their characteristic long hair and flowing beards. They fished. grew wheat and barley. West in 476. Both Romans and Christians complained about the reek of rancid butter that was said to announce a German. They steadfastly preferred their own butter and lard over southern olive oil. But it was the powerful Franks who exerted the most lasting influence within future French territory. gathered berries and nuts from the forests. as well as in their own discernment. and made ale. They roasted meat and made stews. Although the Franks made periodic migrations. which they thought gave them strength to wage war.

in particular of the lamb that Jews offered up in temples. Yet he observed that educated and well-born individuals around him were casting their lot with the Goths and Franks.8 Food Culture in France in the fourth-century writings of Decimus Agnus Ausonius. As part of the Catholic rite of communion. The moralist Salvian of Marseille.1 A century later. Ceremonial cups of wine were drunk throughout. Romans characterized Germans as uncouth rustics and fickle. In the first and second centuries. Early Eucharistic (thanksgiving) meals borrowed from Jewish Passover seders and Greco-Roman banquets. Christianity penetrated first in the southern parts of Gaul where the Germanic traditions held less sway. Christian ritual was overlaid on pagan celebrations of grain and the harvest. In a time of unrest. instead of meat. The meatless diet avoided sacrificial carnage. By the end of the fourth century under Theodosius. draws on the cookbook author Apicius for recipes and on Galen for medical advice. Meats and beer are recommended. acquired a powerful symbolic association to sacrifice in Christianity. Roman fish sauce is categorically forbidden. and he wrote an encomium to the wines and oysters of his native Bordeaux. 534). A variety of foods were eaten in courses. His pastoral poem Mosella catalogues the edible fish in the tributary of the Rhine named in the title (the Moselle). fighters. they found humane treatment at the hands of the barbarians. like the recommendations for sexual abstinence. addressed to the Frankish king Theuderic (d. had no special liking for the Germans. it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Diners reclined. though formidable. Bread was preferred over meat. mystery religions involving the worship of a dying god (such as Isis or Mithras) who was then reborn became popular. the physician and ambassador Anthimus balanced the classical heritage with the Germanic present.2 GALLO-CHRISTIANS In Gaul Christian food practices that evolved from Judaic and Mediterranean traditions had the distinguishing cast of asceticism. The practice of self-denial and also self-definition through the refusal of habits perceived as typical characterized the early Christian approach to food. Christianity had the greatest staying power. Yet Anthimus makes concessions to the intended reader and the available food supply. . Of these. His treatise De observatione ciborum (On the Observance of Foods). local river salmon and trout are indicated. whose writings date to about 440. The rejection of meats. The disparaging comments should be taken with a grain of salt. while noble Rome had turned uncivilized. Bread and wine. is an example of asceticism as well as a populist touch and concession to necessity.

To eat a meal was to commune with fellow Christians and with the Christian god. fasting was required for the period before Easter (Lent). meals were to be taken twice daily in summer and once in winter. the Rule of Benedict of Nursia (d. the bread and wine ostensibly turned into the body and blood of Christ.Historical Overview 9 a piece of bread. By miraculous transubstantiation. Benedict prescribed an acceptable diet for a monk as bread. Other days were added in rhythm with the natural seasons and older pagan holidays. Having productive kitchen gardens and well-stocked larders. Clerics could not bear arms. saintly figures miraculously abstained from food for long periods. and foreign nuts.” on pain of excommunication. To be sure. was ingested along with a sip of wine. As the number of monasteries and nunneries increased and bishops consolidated power. In the early sixth century. Some won privileges for their monasteries to import luxury foods such as pepper. eating bread at daily meals recalled its blessed. monasteries participated in trade networks. the Council of Agde that met in 506 forbade Christians from sharing a meal with “Jews and heretics. Bread and wine evoked the body and blood of Christ. Through symbolism. Despite the Christian principle of disdaining commerce. wine in limited quantity. Outside of church ceremony. servings from two cooked dishes. avoiding actual bloodshed while fostering a penchant for the mystical. mandated hospitality to guests and to any pilgrim as a basic tenet of monastic life. cinnamon. but the ability to host a feast also signaled power. indulgence featured in monastic feasting. In later centuries the stock figure of the gluttonous monk became a target for satirists. The virtuous fasted on Fridays. the rite of communion recast sacrifice on a supernatural level. Starting in the fourth century. Christians fasted for short periods while charitably giving alms and donating food. early Christian tolerance. In defiance of Jewish principles of fellowship. buying products imported through the Mediterranean ports. The communicant directly incorporated his god. More commonly. 540). fruits or vegetables in season. and Greek and Gallo-Roman conviviality. they could entertain elite visitors. He remained so through the early eighteenth century. institutional pronouncements set ideals for GalloChristian food practice. father of monasticism in the West. to consume him. If asceticism and fasting characterized early Christianity. . Monks and nuns earned a reputation as food experts. In extreme cases. The principles of inclusion and generosity were not always put into practice. ca. Eucharistic counterpart. when the power of the Catholic Church in France began to decline. and to become him. later the thin unleavened wafer known as the host. Gallic bishops financed banquets to alleviate the hunger of the poor. but they gave feasts to build up their reputations.

St. Sophisticated systems of exchange also flourished in the marketplace. The social hierarchy based on landholding. the most influential of whom was Charlemagne (r. Barley. most people relied on grains for food. tied to the seasons and the harvest cycle. and quite ill managed. wheat. and encouraged international trade. Monastic fairs at Paris. who then exacted tributes from the peasants working their terrain. The Christian was burdened with original sin. Langres. The Frankish kingships were military. 768–814). In the Carolingian era. Exotic products show the reach of the trade networks. Nobles. Carolingian documents describing the abbey at St. Maixent. as in ancient times and up through the Revolution of 1789. The Frankish liturgy included the ceremonial use of chrism (balsam or balm mixed with oil). Benoît de Cessieu brought in revenue. linked merchants to monasteries and the king. giving rise to the new dynasty of Carolingians. and millet were the most common. made annual gifts to the emperor. and was crowned Emperor on Christmas day in the year 800 by Pope Leo III in Rome. the flesh was impure. The acquisition of land cemented power for titled individuals such as counts and dukes. The problem was how to define moderation according to Christian principles. and the diet included imports such as lemons and dates. personal. Flavigny. Frankish Paris. Beer and wine were . Charlemagne made donations to the Church. How can the duties of the host to be generous reconcile with the obligation of the penitent to live sparingly? CAROLINGIAN RENEWAL After the Roman period. Cormery. Pulses complemented the grain. For the Christian.10 Food Culture in France Feasting and fasting traditions—extreme eating—reflect the natural alternation of cycles of plenty and shortage. Tournus. oats and rye became important. and rank would underpin the feudal castes of the next centuries. Greeks and Romans explained the need for moderation at table through principles of health. the Merovingian dynasty of Frankish tribal leaders converted to Christianity and shifted the capital from Romanized Lyon to northern. Unlike in the Roman era. and St. set himself up as protector of the Church and of the faithful. Gall (in present-day Switzerland) indicate a richly provisioned establishment. like the Saxons and other peoples conquered in war. Charlemagne waged war to enlarge his dominions across Europe. no system of direct taxation was used. wealth. Near the Rhine valley. Spices were available. They also reveal contradictions inherent to the Gallo-Christian cult of late antiquity. a powerful palace mayor (administrator) to the king overthrew his employer. for instance. At length.

In the feudal era.3 Attempting to counter hunger. 987–1322) expanded their Parisian stronghold to include the counties of Flanders and Boulogne. and various herbs. taken during the ninth century. sought to remedy shortages by improving agriculture. born near Langres. and makers of garum. fish. butchers. In earlier centuries. such as cucumbers. bakers.Historical Overview 11 the beverages of choice.4 He exhorted cooks. cervoise (ale). The capitularies listed plants that Charlemagne wanted to be cultivated throughout the empire. Hoarding and speculation on grain and wine aggravated shortages. Difficult conditions fostered tales about the supernatural provision of food and drink. chickpeas. turnips. communion wine. 605–670). After the Serment de Strasbourg or Strasbourg Oath of 842.5 The narrative left by his biographer Einhard shows the effort to negotiate customs from Frankish warrior feasts (involving meat from hunted game and plenty of alcohol) with both classical moderation and Christian asceticism. Charlemagne himself was said to have been a careful eater and a moderate drinker. cabbages. Frankish tastes color provisionary miracles of the Merovingian and Carolingian eras. ca. so children also drank diluted alcohols. According to the vita or life written in the ninth century. or holy oil. including the oldest surviving copies of Apicius’s cookbook De re coquinaria (On Cookery. The Capetian kings (r. mustard. millers. Water was not dependably safe. Carolingian territories were divided into three parts. fava beans. His Capitulare de villis vel curtis imperii. It is thanks to Carolingian monastic scribes that many ancient texts are known today. The plants and foods listed in the capitularies were familiar from antiquity. but this measure did not hold market rates steady. radishes. fourth century). spontaneous generation was said to have produced loaves. A warrior class of chevaliers or knights who were supposed to aid the lords and monarch fought their way into that class to obtain their own hereditary titles and landowning rights. or decrees regarding the imperial domains. and mustard to work carefully in a clean environment. Encouraging agriculture and food production was part of the effort to renew the achievements of imperial Rome within the contemporary Christian empire. Saint Sadalberga (ca. rocket. Charlemagne fixed prices for bread. miraculously filled a vat with beer just in time for the visit of the abbot who assisted her to found a monastery. In the ninth and tenth centuries. Famine was common. lettuce. Normans or Norsemen (“northern” or Scandinavian . peasants would work land and trades in exchange for protection given by the landowner. cheese. West Francia covered much of the territory of contemporary France. beets. artichokes. hydromel (fermented honey drink). Dynastic competitions were keen in the Middle Ages.

authorized by Pope Eugenius IV in 1441 and staffed by nuns. Writing about the Capetians. During the era of the crusades. From the start to the end of the Capetian dynasty. After Pope Urban II’s call in 1095 from Clermont-Ferrand to take Jerusalem from the Turks. but it was originally conceived to benefit the charity hospital. From its association with pagan Rome and the god Bacchus. The contemporary language of the written version (ca. so productive at home.12 Food Culture in France warriors and sailors) descended in boats to plunder and scout for land. Three-crop rotations.” The Old French epic Chanson de Roland (Song of Roland) looks back in time to recount a battle against Moors in Spain that was fought during the era of Charlemagne. Heavy workhorses bred from Carolingian cavalry animals—the knights’ battle chargers— pulled plows faster than the old-fashioned teams of oxen. improved use of the soil.” Armed knights were apt to skirmish over small slights. During the Middle Ages. Today. In the south. the link between Christian succor and wine is recalled by events such as the wine auction held every November at the Hôtel-Dieu or historic hospice in the town of Beaune in Burgundy. monks grew grapes and produced wine for medicinal use and to offer to travelers and pilgrims whom the laws of hospitality obliged them to host. the counts of Provence defended their territory. however. They settled in the northwest (today’s Normandy). GRAIN AND SWORDS The agricultural and population expansion that lasted about 300 years until the mid-thirteenth century owed much to the absence of the military class. invaded Britain. with winter and spring plantings next to a fallow field that was sometimes grazed (and thus manured). refers to the homeland as la douce France (sweet France). and the more peaceable nobles. Grain farming increased to newly opened fields in the north and east. Denis forsook the customary phrase “king of the Franks” for the new description “king of France. Christian warriors left in droves to crusade against the Muslim “infidel. the population tripled to about 20 million. then merged with Aquitaine and Britain to form the powerful Anglo-Norman or Angevin empire. the abbot Suger of St. 1100). wine became the symbol of Christian France. New wheeled plows were more versatile and efficient. The auction is now commercial. . With the knights conveniently gone on crusade. Improved food production supported a larger population. posing a constant threat to peasants. people imagined “France” as a place and an idea. peasants reclaimed land through cutting forests and draining marshes. priests.

Historical Overview 13 There was literally little spice in the gustatory life of the peasant. was not uncommon among peasants. Inexpensive piquette (wine made from the second pressing of the fruit) was available in much of the country. In the South and on Corsica. beans. and chickpeas supplemented the grains and gave more protein. Staples varied by region and according to local taste. Once Franç ois I granted the privilege of manufacture to vinegar makers. Nutritious oats were widely grown. For most. 1150 to 1450). who used the resulting brandy as a medicine. although primarily to feed horses. generally found in wealthy homes. Cod fishing in North Atlantic waters provided a new. dark bread was made of wheat supplemented with other grains. people ate chestnuts. During the little ice age that lasted through the next three centuries. especially pork. harsh winters regularly led to inadequate grain harvests. poaching was punishable by execution. In Brittany blé noir or sarrasin (buckwheat) mixed with water or milk was used to make gruel. The ill. Meat-eating declined among the peasants. and destitute received assistance in the form of meals of soup . Eating meat. as well as fresh fish. the market for brandies and fortified wines quickly expanded. the basic foodstuffs were interminable bowls of gruel and bread made from wheat or maslin (wheat mixed with rye and barley). the society was now in bad shape. high prices. Peasants drank hard apple cider in the northwest. the best wines from Gascony and Bordeaux were exported to British cellars. For survivors of the plague and wars. the climate changed. Charitable institutions and paying establishments alike existed to provide venues for meals. Wine was grown as far north as the Paris basin—there were vineyards at Montmartre and Belleville. elderly. although hunting game in forests remained restricted to the aristocracy. cheap staple that could be eaten during the lean days of Lent. sometimes grinding the nuts into a flour. cervoise or beer in the northeast. As a result of the ravages of the Hundred Years War (1337–1453) fought against England and the Black Death or bubonic plague (1348–1349). when meat was forbidden. diet and living conditions did improve until about the mid-sixteenth century. Le Havre. Honfleur. Cheese was a staple in the Auvergne. White wheat bread was rare. Voluntary distribution of food was often associated with collective settings such as hospices and hospitals. Stockfisch or salted dried cod. Peas. Until 1537. food shortages. the distillation of wine was the province of apothecaries. which killed 8 million people. and Nantes. made their way across the country from ships that docked at the western ports of Dieppe. In rural areas and among the poor everywhere. During the Angevin period (ca. Around 1550. The feudal era had been relatively prosperous. and hunger.

prisoners of war. Tirel was known as Taillevent. Usually the taverns and other watering holes made some sort of food available. sauciers attended to the garnishes. interested in ostentation as well as the distribution of largesse. drew on the author’s experience as maistre queux du roy de France or master cook to the king of France. which might rest on metal underplates. and much later the pensions (boarding houses) typical in the nineteenth century served meals usually at fixed hours and almost invariably at a communal table. His nickname refers to wind cutting through sails and presumably evokes his swiftness and efficacy in . and itinerant merchants. Le Viandier (The Provisioner) attributed to Guillaume de Tirel (1315–1395). and close to marketplaces that drew a crowd. elites rented out a hôtel and the services of a cook and his helpers. Myriad attendants performed separate offices. and generous lords allocated food and wine to pilgrims. inns. judges. For important occasions such as weddings. pantners looked after the bread. hostelries) maintained by municipal authorities sheltered travelers. The spectacular service prevented diners from having to bring knives and slice their own portions from the roast. According to region and century. Inns and the tavernes that served wine set up strategically near city gates. minimally bread and cheese or a piece of cold meat pie. for a catered meal. and the table was set with a nef or ship-shaped container to hold the salt. one also drank wine or beer at a cabaret (Picardy). Convents. The duties of lords to distribute food and wine stemmed from Christian notions of hospitality and also the old feudal obligations to vassals or dependents. One of the earliest recipe manuscripts. MANUSCRIPT TO COOKBOOK The earliest French-language works on cooking reflect practice in distinguished settings. Nobles feasted in the great halls of their castles. or a débit de vin (“wine dispensary:” sixteenth century and later). Recipes and indications for service followed the international style of the late medieval and early Renaissance courts throughout western Europe.14 Food Culture in France and bread. monasteries. Paying hôtels or hôtelleries (hostels. estaminet (northern France and the Burgundian territory that is today Belgium). at busy intersections in town. Each course of a meal had several dishes. where the local regulars often gave travelers and newcomers a hard time. journeymen. Honored guests sat above the salt close to the head of the table. Carvers neatly dismembered whole roasted animals carried in on immense platters. as in earlier times. The hostels. Food was placed on sliced bread trenchers. The nobility were conspicuous consumers. hosting them for up to three days.

sweet flavors combined with salty tastes in the same dish. In 1450. in one version of the manuscript) and shellfish. food for the sick. and printing came to France shortly thereafter (1470). as cane sugar. Recipes are organized according to the type of main ingredient. ca. After all. His cookbook has a coherent organization that reflects the relationship of the recipes to the part they play in a grand meal.”6 . This logic. 1393). and economics accompany those on meals. and how much money she should spend for each item. The author was a well-heeled bourgeois who wrote the instructional booklet for his teenage bride. was used as a spice. Notably. not for service in a château (castle). Expensive foreign spices were status symbols. The spice mixtures reflect the Roman heritage. The author describes how to dress game taken on the hunt and indicates when the various garden vegetables should be planted seasonally. is still current for many manuals. Taillevent’s résumé was superb: he cooked for the Valois king Philip VI and for Charles V and served as head of provisions for Charles VI. although there is some adjustment in the direction of modesty. including supervising the kitchen. as in the recipe for “imitating a bear [or stag] steak with a piece of beef. evokes a different. in which the cookbook mirrors the meal in its organization and progress through time. Many recipes demand a heavy-handed application of spices. Another early manuscript. milieu. and cold and hot sauces. meatless stews and soups (for fast days). They also indicate the circumstances of the eaters. long pepper. He gives menus for feast and fast days. Many of his recipes borrow directly from Taillevent’s Viandier. the author wrote for his own ménage. if also wealthy. and the cooking method: boiled meats. meat broths and stews.Historical Overview 15 the kitchen. roasts and roast fowl. cinnamon. Le Mesnagier de Paris (The Parisian Household Guide. Le Mesnagier is thoroughly didactic. and even tells his wife where she should go shopping for ingredients and utensils in Paris. the use of the dish for further cooking or service. imported from the Middle East and Sicily. Johann Gutenberg pioneered use of the printing press with movable type in Mainz. grains of paradise (Malagueta pepper). who had to learn to run the ménage (household). Late medieval recipes hold surprises for the modern French palate. Chapters on the obligations of a virtuous wife. moral theology. The popular Viandier enjoyed numerous print editions through the seventeenth century. A typical list includes cloves. To serve or consume them was to demonstrate wealth and prestige. fancy entremets (meat or grain dishes served between the first and second courses). fish (including whale. ginger. Other intriguing features of medieval recipes include elaborate substitutions and gastronomic trickery. and the irreplaceable black pepper.

of meat or fish pasties and cheese and egg pies. The oublie (a waffle decorated with religious symbols) recalled the oblation (sacrifice. Meat sellers. Risks accompanied eating out. and bowls of gruel were available. Later in the same century. for instance. . and self-sufficiency declined. a similar unleavened egg and butter cake called a fouace was the province of the fouacier. In urban settings. and of tripe and offal. The tantalizing list of food specialists for Paris in Étienne Boileau’s Livre des métiers (Book of Trades) of 1268 mentions sellers of bread. including in the street. The collectivities regulated entry into each trade and defended practitioners’ interests. tavern keepers were known to sophistiquer (adulterate) their wine. Types of street food multiplied over the centuries as sellers increased in number. giving a taste of independence to master workers if not their apprentices. where walking down the street revealed a wealth of edibles. later called corporations). from an ambulatory vendor with his cart. But the customer had to be on the alert. In principle. specialists such as bakers. cooked and cured pork from a chaircuitier saulcissier. or from a merchant stationed at an échoppe (booth or shop). To stretch profits. and fowl. of leftovers from the grand houses. had to responsibly discard or burn any meat older than two or three days and meat that smelled off. Concerned municipal authorities did pass ordinances to regulate sales. the oubloyer’s portable oven was sometimes called a fournaise à pardon (“absolution furnace”). and bureaucracy displaced tribal and familial relationships. milk. An unscrupulous wine merchant might push ignoble plonk as a good vintage from one of the better wine towns.16 Food Culture in France MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE STREET FOOD Taking food and meals outside of the home had a strong association to the urban centers. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries cities grew rapidly. but one had to purchase one’s repast piecemeal. vinegared herring. each vendor had to stick to his specialty. Stationed at the entry to churches on feast days. industry and trade prospered. People purchased these street foods at the exterior counter of a boutique. raising the price accordingly. defined by corporate rules and royal statutes revised periodically until the attempt was made to suppress the trade guilds in 1776. butchers. onions à longue haleine (having a lasting effect on the breath). the poet Guillaume de Villeneuve’s Crieries de Paris (Parisian Vendors’ Calls) adds that pears. and town criers joined with colleagues to form guilds (communautés de métier. Roasted meats came from a rôtisseur. The gaufrier specialized in waffles. Beginning in the twelfth century. of geese. they were definitively dissolved in 1791. pigeons. smiths. by extension the symbolic offering of bread and wine in the Catholic liturgy). shoemakers.

they returned with marvelous foods: tomatoes. Bonnefons called the Jerusalem artichoke a pomme de terre (“earth apple”. Topinamboux is the French name of a native Brazilian tribe (the Tupi). cranberries. Christopher Columbus first set out in 1492 to find a fast water route to “the Indies” (that is. The French state came late to ambitious maritime exploration. bell peppers. vanilla. chocolate. the Florentine Amerigo Vespucci. made it to the Far East. seedy Old World fraises des bois or wild woodland strawberries). By this time. as well as the famous corsaires or pirates who raided Spanish and Portuguese ships. there was initially some confusion as to how to name it. 1651) and Les Delices de la campagne (The Delights of the Countryside. and new varieties of beans. The knobby tuber has a firm texture and a sweet taste reminiscent of artichokes. Neither Columbus. corn (maize). and the . Commissioned by the Spanish monarchs. private funds sponsored the earliest trading and colonizing voyages. As with many new foods. In 1537. papaya. Another writer referred to it as a poire de terre (“earth pear”). Nicolas de Bonnefons was the valet to Louis XIV whose books Le Jardinier françois (The French Gardener. 1654) laid out instructions for gardening and then cooking from one’s own harvest. including the Jerusalem artichoke and wild rice. Bumping instead into the Americas. Samuel de Champlain finally founded a successful colony at Québec in 1608. turkey (in French dinde abbreviates coq d’Inde or “Indian chicken”). The voyagers to North America also found Virginia strawberries (larger than the tiny. Asia) to make it cheaper to import pepper and other spices. Spanish soldiers found “floury roots” in a mountain village in Peru7. who reached Mexico in 1519. Rather. and pumpkin returned with European voyagers. who also encountered pineapple. Champlain returned with the topinambour or Jerusalem artichoke (or sunchoke). blueberries. potatoes arrived in Europe in the 1570s. Muscovy duck. guava. From Canada. Portugal had cornered the market on black pepper. Perhaps the name topinambour stuck for the Jerusalem artichoke because it so intriguingly evokes exotic origins. which is appreciated today. and Spain wanted its own supply of this expensive commodity.Historical Overview 17 NEW WORLD FOODS Cornerstones of modern cooking such as potatoes and tomatoes are relatively recent additions to the French pantry. this would become the word for potato). and Henri IV began sending Jesuit missionaries to North America shortly thereafter. Belated French voyages to the New World brought further culinary discoveries. These New World foods came to France as a result of European voyages made beginning in the late fifteenth century. nor Hernando Cortès. and strawberries.


Food Culture in France

aquatic grass known as wild rice, which the Ojibwa taught the French to harvest from canoes and to cure. Many of the New World foods were incorporated only gradually into the diet. Hot chili peppers in the Capsicum family never took hold at all; spicy flavors are still disliked today. Other foods came through Spain and went to Italy before ending up in France, where cultural obstacles prevented their quick adoption. Today, it is difficult to imagine cooking without tomatoes; however, it took two centuries before the tomato was incorporated into the diet. A member of the deadly nightshade family, it was thought poisonous. The potato, from the same family of Solonacae, was also viewed with suspicion. Of course, the voyagers attested to its edibility. A few others quickly recognized that the potato would be useful against grain shortages, and fields were planted in Alsace and Lorraine, in the Auvergne, and in the Lyon area. Because of the importance of bread and the periodic famines resulting from lack of grain, potato fanciers experimented with using potato flour or mashed potatoes to replace wheat in leavened loaves; however, the potato had a bad reputation. It was accused of causing leprosy and was thought of as food fit only for the poor. By the eighteenth century, the old excuse was taken up that spuds were flatulent. Finally, potatoes were distributed to members of an agricultural society, and the naturalist Auguste Parmentier (1737–1813), with the support of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI, promoted them tirelessly. Parmentier’s great coup was to plant potatoes in a field belonging to Louis XVI that was heavily guarded during the day. When the guards retired for the evening, temptation lured the local population in to poach whatever was so very valuable in the king’s fields. By the nineteenth century, people had begun to rely on potatoes as a staple. Turkey was accepted relatively quickly. By the eighteenth century, it often replaced goose as a festive roast. Today, turkey is popular for the winter holidays, and, as a pale-fleshed meat, it often replaces veal. In the seventeenth century, southern French peasants began to grow corn to eat as millasse (porridge like Italian polenta) or as corncakes or pancakes, selling the more profitable wheat that they grew. Elsewhere corn was primarily grown as animal fodder and to enrich soil depleted from other crops. It is hardly eaten today; most people still think of corn as food for animals.

Late seventeenth-century cookbooks emphasized tastes and codified procedures that persist today. In the 1660s, the satirist Nicolas Boileau poked fun at vulgar types who scour far-off Goa for pepper and ginger and whose idea of refinement consists of too much pepper mixed up in the sauce.8

Historical Overview


Spices, which had become relatively inexpensive, were out of style in aristocratic contexts. Instead of disguising flavors of the principal ingredients with baroque flourishes, some clarity and sense of proportion were now sought. Even humble vegetables were required to taste a bit more of themselves. Cooks working for elite diners turned to the kitchen garden for the flavoring palette. Cookbooks from this period, such as François Pierre de La Varenne’s Le Cuisinier françois (The French Cook, 1651), Pierre de Lune’s Le Cuisinier (The Cook, 1656), and L.S.R.’s Art de bien traiter (Art of Entertaining Well, 1674), show that cooks did use spices such as cloves. They certainly retained salt and pepper, although, often enough, only un peu (a little bit) in the case of pepper. A remarkable feature of these cookbooks is the use of plants to provide seasoning. Fresh herbs, onions, and garlic appear repeatedly in the recipes. Pierre de Lune explained how to use an herbal paquet (packet) that could be dropped into cooking liquids to give them flavor. The little bundle included thyme, chervil, and parsley and was tied up with a piece of string; the optional strip of lard (fat bacon) was taken out for jours maigres (lean days). Pierre de Lune’s paquet is the ancestor of the modern bouquet garni. Increasingly, salty flavors were separated from sweet, and sweets relegated to the end of the meal. A harmonious balance of flavors and the enhancement, rather than disguise, of the main ingredients were desired.

Fresh parsley, scallions, shallots, and garlic are essential ingredients and flavorings in French cuisine. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil.


Food Culture in France

The late seventeenth-century cookbooks reflect the preference for order. The Classical-era manuals allude to the sequences of procedures that are necessary for complex cooking. The cook must keep on hand an all-purpose meat stock pour la nourriture (“for the alimentation”) of other dishes such as sauces and to moisten meats. He must make roux (flour cooked in butter) as a thickener, and he must use butter and fewer breadcrumbs as liaisons or binders. To complete the time-consuming preparations—mashing, grating, peeling, chopping, slicing, scaling, soaking, blanching, boiling, reducing, barding, mixing, kneading, whipping, stirring, sieving, clarifying—on the large scale required to cook grand meals, an army of kitchen help must assist the head chef. These preparations had to be carried out before a dish could be finished. Today, chefs spend hours in the kitchen completing their mise en place (“putting into place” or preparation, i.e., chopping parsley, peeling vegetables, and so on) before actually beginning to cook. The Classical cookbooks laid the foundation for the lush cooking that went on in wealthy houses during the eighteenth century. The recipes and procedures also underpin haute cuisine, the refined, complex style of cooking that chefs practiced in restaurants and hotels in the nineteenth century. The contemporary descendent of aristocratic banquet cuisine is today’s cuisine gastronomique, such as in the Michelin-starred restaurants. Despite the advances toward modern taste in Classical cooking, aristocratic banquet meals retained the ostentatious service à la française (French-style service) typical of the Renaissance. Each course consisted of a profusion of different dishes laid out in a perfectly symmetrical geometry on the table. One was obliged to take from whatever serving plate was near at hand. The ceremonial court meal served à la française reached its apogee in the dining rooms of Louis XIV (r. 1661–1715). The Sun King’s reign had begun with an unfortunate slight delivered by means of dinner. With money skimmed off from the state’s tax income, Nicolas Fouquet, the superintendent of finances, built himself an estate and gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte, then began to entertain in a style that fit his grand circumstances. In the summer of 1661, he staged two full days of festivities, including a parade of costumed allegorical figures who served supper and a massive edible monument of sugar confectionary, shiny preserved fruits, and ices, to honor Louis XIV. The mastermind behind the ill-fated but gorgeous banquet at Vaux was the maître d’hôtel or executive chef Franç ois Vatel. The king grew disgusted at Fouquet’s opulence, arranged for his minister’s arrest, and was never again outdone in the area of magnificent entertaining.

Historical Overview


Under the reign of Louis XIV, France subdued Spanish and Austrian rivals in Europe and set the standard for cultural brilliance across the Continent. Louis XIV ordered gardens and a brilliant hall of mirrors to be built at his château at Versailles. There he surrounded himself with his aristocratic entourage. The scheme was astute. The king made sure that people danced attendance upon him even when he arose from bed in the morning. For a noble, to risk an absence from a feast or the king’s intimate but ceremonial morning lever was to incur his displeasure and risk banishment to the yawning provinces. By holding political rivals in pleasing captivity at Versailles, Louis XIV prevented interference with his own monopoly on power. Protocol for serving and eating, like nearly every other aspect of court life, was designed to reflect and increase the greatness of the monarch. The king was the only man allowed to eat bareheaded. His food was marched in from the far-away kitchens by a long procession of guards, servants, and tasters. Although the use of the fork was firmly established by now among members of the aristocratic classes, Louis XIV was the only person at the table who did not bother with one, preferring to eat with his hands. Unsuccessful attempts had been made to recruit Vatel into service at Versailles; however, Vatel did stage one more dinner for the king. In 1669, now working for the Prince de Condé—long a rival to the king and suspected of a conspiracy against him—at the Château de Chantilly, Vatel staged an entertainment and weekend of feasting designed to restore his master to the good graces of the king. So great was the pressure of the occasion that the ingenious Vatel panicked when the delivery of fish failed to arrive, and he committed suicide. The epistolary chronicler Madame de Sévigné was not even there, but she habitually gathered all the gossip, and her account of Vatel’s death is practically the only credible information that survives. Madame de Sévigné wrote to her daughter that the fish wagons finally arrived, and the meal was a great success, at least for the Prince. Clearly, food and table manners were weighty matters during the Classical era. The table was a stage on which dramas of power were enacted every day. This is quite clear in the sly comedies of the playwright Molière, responsible for many of the evening entertainments at Versailles, just as he had been for the play presented by Fouquet at Vaux in 1661. In Tartuffe, ou l’Imposteur (Tartuffe, or The Imposter, 1669), for instance, the dynamics of the meal reveal the moral and psychological conflicts. A wealthy, gullible bourgeois has taken a devout individual into his household, but the soulful friend turns out to be a destructive parasite and first-rate hypocrite. Tartuffe literally eats his host out of house and home, attempts to

The anonymous compiler of the École parfaite included diagrams that show the steps for cutting up roast meats and whole cooked fish and fowl in order to serve them. Menon’s cookbook was a best-seller and the only ancien régime cookbook to be reissued immediately after the Revolution of 1789. appropriately sauced and garnished. a century later. As gluttonous Tartuffe grows fat on bread and wine that are not his own. to those with the highest social standing. Today. was the order of the day. that the person cooking in any but the very wealthiest households was usually a woman. they would be commonplace. Menon’s anonymously published Cuisinière bourgeoise (The [Female] Bourgeois Cook. 1691) responded to the incipient social changes that brought cookbooks aimed for use in nonaristocratic households. and nearly swindles him of everything he owns. CHOCOLATE. COFFEE. showing the social order gone wrong. the title of Massialot’s Cuisinier roïal et bourgeois (Royal and Bourgeois Cook. TEA. the mistress of the house grows sick and faint and cannot eat. such as Tartuffe’s show of devout Catholicism (shared with Louis XIV). Regional cookbooks appeared in the nineteenth century and encyclopedic yet accessible references both to grand cooking and to home cooking in the twentieth. by its title. The shared meal turns into a perverse. The introduction and the written instructions that accompany the pictures remind the carver that he should serve the best morsels. coffee. vampiric anti-communion. the many illustrated cookbooks that are designed to appeal to the broad swathe of the middle classes combine the visual appeal of the art or photography book and the personal tone of the memoir with the practical methods in the recipes themselves. 1746) even acknowledged. 1662) borrowed not only recipes from cookbooks but also information from the tradition of treatises dating to the Renaissance on topics such as carving and serving. AND SUGAR During the seventeenth century. The anthology called L’École parfaite des officiers de bouche (The Finishing School for Cooks. Visible conformity to rank and acceptable social mores. chocolate. Published at the very end of the seventeenth century. tea. During the eighteenth century. The lesser pieces were doled out to the less distinguished guests. Mexican chocolate (drunk as a beverage) was adopted at the Spanish court and then in the Spanish Netherlands before coming to . and sugar became fashionable among elites.22 Food Culture in France seduce his virtuous wife. Cookbooks and other documents pertaining to meals reveal the strong sense of social hierarchy that prevailed at the height of the ancien régime.

through the Arab world to Turkey. Europeans added cane sugar to sweeten them. Columbus brought cane to Santo Domingo. The banker. for which Napoleon named him chevalier de la Légion d’honneur. Separately. Napoleon now called for the cultivation of sugar beets in northern France and the Belgian provinces. and crusaders supervised sugar plantations in Jerusalem. intellectually stimulating drink. In antiquity cane sugar had been a curiosity known to come from India. France soon . wine. The Dutch East India Company brought Chinese tea to Europe. to drink coffee imported from the Antilles and to eat sweets made with Martinique or Guadeloupe sugar was to support the economy. where the aristocracy considered the drink an aphrodisiac. From the thirteenth century. an Ottoman ambassador on diplomatic mission from Constantinople also introduced coffee to the court of Louis XIV at Versailles. France became a major producer of sugar. the botanist Olivier de Serres had remarked on the high sugar content of beets. In eighteenth-century France. and from there it spread to other Caribbean islands and the South American mainland. Sugar was so expensive that only small quantities returned to Europe. Throughout the nineteenth century.Historical Overview 23 France. and amateur botanist Benjamin Delessert developed a dependable refining process. Portuguese and Spanish colonial plantations staffed by slaves in the Atlantic. Coffee made its way from Ethiopia and Yemen. When Napoleon boycotted trade with Britain in the early nineteenth century. During the Middle Ages. in view of the competition from other colonial nations. sculptures made of spun sugar and marzipan (ground almonds mixed with sugar). and by the twentieth century the hot drinks. France’s colonial sugar could not reach the country. in 1669. and soups as morning meals. decorated royal tables as symbols of wealth and power. had entirely replaced beer. but the supply to France increased substantially after Henri IV chartered the French East India Company in 1604. In this era the sugar industry depended on the slave trade for labor. and by boat from Venice to the trading center of Marseille. then via the Mediterranean port cities to southern Europe. industrialist. Perception of coffee’s effects varied. In the nineteenth century. As all three beverages were thought to be overly strong and bitter. then British and French ones in the Caribbean. cane cultivation spread with Arabian settlements to areas of the Mediterranean and North Africa. The taste for sugared coffee and the other beverages was initially restricted to aristocratic and bourgeois circles. sugar was rare to unknown in peasant households. but generally it was seen as a sobering. Britain blocked French ships from landing in the western ports. sent quantities of sugar to Europe. As early as the late sixteenth century. especially coffee.

the protagonist is fed by the cook in the back kitchen of the house where he is a servant. however.5 kilograms (74 pounds) of sugar each year. and he presides over his own richly appointed table. Many cafés served a selection of foods as well as coffee. rare spice. the average person consumes nearly 33. ENLIGHTENMENT CAFÉS In the eighteenth century. the bourgeois fiscal administrators and money lenders whose opulent eating habits rivaled those of the previous century’s aristocrats. This works out to about one teaspoonful each day. Over the stimulating small bowls or cups of coffee. discuss politics. known as Franç ois Procope. 1735) marked rungs on the social ladder through culinary and gastronomic distinctions. At the novel’s start. many a café has served at once as office. and debate the latest play. savory staples of meat and bread. the café still operates in Paris. including bankers. In this era new customs blurred old divisions among the social orders. . salon. No longer a medical wonder. grew in the urban centers.24 Food Culture in France had a reliable local source of sugar. but the sway of the merchant and bourgeois classes. As late as the 1890s. Following Italian practice. cafés became common in Paris and modern-style restaurants developed. people from all walks of life sat down to read the newspaper. In contrast with the nourishing. play chess. and daily or nightly haven for writers scribbling away under the gaze of the garçon de café (café waiter). The monarch sold administrative offices to raise money. working class prejudice mitigated against sugar. Because cafés were open to all comers. sugar was viewed as unhealthy9. France’s first successful café had been opened in the 1670s by the young Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli. The rags-to-riches story in Pierre Carlet de Marivaux’s novel Le Paysan parvenu (The Parvenu Peasant. yet retained hereditary privileges.3 kilograms (about 11. and this attitude changed. Four-fifths of the population still lived in villages and rural areas. sugar manufacturers began to advertise heavily. By its end. along with ices. At present. sugar became the common sweetener and preservative that it is today. liqueurs. allowing bourgeois citizens to purchase power along with noble titles. Since then. consumption averaged 5. Procope eschewed the eastern custom of leaving the grounds in the cup. Nobles engaged in trades such as mining to exploit their land. he has married his way into a family of fermiers généraux (tax farmers). or wondrous decoration for luxurious tables. dining room.7 pounds) of sugar yearly. coffee-drinking acquired its lasting association with conversation and the free exchange of information. and instead served filtered coffee. They notably provided an ambiance quite different from the boozy miasma of the tavern. and candied fruits. During the 1860s.

Arts. and others wrote collaboratively at mid-century. In his article on the topic for the Encyclopédie. butchering. des Arts. ou Dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences. The word gourmandise or gluttony had referred since the fourteenth century to the Deadly Sin. secular definition and introduced the notion of moderation. Diderot gave the word a new. Cultivated into an . Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. history. PHILOSOPHICAL FOOD The democratic attitude that flourished in the café guided the Enlightenment approach to food in other spheres. et des Métiers (Encyclopedia. Materialist thought even rationalized pleasure by means of the table. The topic is treated with interest in the great Encyclopédie. they solicited articles not just on the expected topics of theology. and jurisprudence. Although of delicate digestion. but also on pastry-making.Historical Overview 25 Little escapes the watchful eye of the café waiter. and he took pleasure into account. Now gourmandise also meant the deepened enjoyment that comes with understanding. Diderot notoriously loved to eat and drink. and Trades. or Reasoned Dictionary of the Sciences. 1751–1765) that the philosophe Denis Diderot. the mathematician Jean Le Rond d’Alembert. bread-baking. The editors believed that analysis and reason should be applied in all domains. and strawberries. Accordingly.

saw both urbane gastronomic pleasure and urban food shortage as two sides of the same decadent coin. [and] fruits. ou la Nouvelle Héloïse (Julie.”10 Foods should be prepared with as few alterations to their original state as possible. he recommended pure. informed appreciation for the daily pleasures of cooking and eating is a defining aspect of the French approach to food. the bodily necessity of eating could enhance. which makes people “cruel and ferocious. everyday existence. Parents sought guidance in Émile to raising their own children. Mercier observed with chagrin that any prohibition unjustly strained the poor.” Given the choice. 1761). breast-feed their new babies. He complained that. One should eat foods in season. a staple for many who did not have the means to pay for meat. was a bestseller. because so specialized an art is required to make dishes edible for them. for instance.26 Food Culture in France intellectual as well as a sensual experience. Ever the contrarian. all observant Catholics were still supposed to avoid prohibited foods or foods of unclear status. about educating children. the philosophe and novelist Jean-Jacques Rousseau. such as eggs. children incline to vegetables along with “dairy products. pastries. His ideas for a natural diet reached a wide audience. Rousseau advocated that mothers. The word restaurant .11 MODERN RESTAURANTS The modern restaurant experience took shape in Paris in the late eighteenth century. which portrayed an ideal family and household economy. In his novel Émile (1762). Rousseau was actually a francophone Swiss. rather than simply maintain. they are in fact the only people “who do not know how to eat. and Rousseau’s novel Julie. simple food as the most wholesome and also as the best for character formation. apply heat to butter and dairy products. On lean days. he observed. rather than hired wet-nurses. One should not. contrary to the received idea that the sophisticated French eat well.” and they eschew meat. a few guilded traiteurs or cook-caterers expanded business by offering meals in a different kind of setting than the rough table d’hôte of the innkeeper. or The New Heloise. Today. whose real problem was getting enough to eat at all. Writing during the 1780s. In defiance of contemporary norms for those with any disposable income. Beginning in the 1760s. Bread riots that continued through the most of the century bore out this view. the reformer and journalist Louis-Sébastien Mercier recorded in the Tableau de Paris (Picture of Paris) the misery that ecclesiastical fasting requirements inflicted on the poor. Social critics associated with the later Enlightenment couched their discussions in a more polemical way.

the term restaurant meant the eating house itself. notably. individual tables. conveniently. which is still open today. for men) before the law. The light. The new establishments listed the available dishes and their prices on a carte or menu. Although they frequented a public place. These included the Trois Frères Provençaux (Three Brothers from Provence). who had cooked for the Count of Provence. who served southern specialties such as brandade de morue (creamed salt cod) and bouillabaisse (Provençal fish soup). It was necessary to decipher the menu and sometimes to outsmart a sneaky maître d’hôtel who could run up the bill by bringing extras. diners sat at private. They caught on quickly. “Quality” now came from work or performance. QUALITY. It fostered meritocracy rather than entitlement based on inherited name or rank. fruit preserves. the future Louis XVIII. the customer chose exactly what and when he or she wanted to eat. who had trained as a lawyer. opened in 1782 by Antoine Beauvilliers. Véfour. COMFORT. The new Code Napoléon or Civil Law Code of 1804 scripted autonomy and equality (at least. His satirical response was to develop a mocking code gourmand or food . Grimod. they served items such as boiled capons. Before long. Many opened restaurants. After the Revolution and the chaos of the Terror in the early 1790s. the Grande Taverne de Londres (Great London Tavern). an entire French dining experience.12 The famous early establishments were based in Paris. legal reforms enacted under Napoleon shaped a country changed by republican ideas although still breathing ancien régime air. be kept or quickly prepared for service at a moment’s notice. had a serious interest in food and deep skepticism regarding the motives of the powerful. and rice puddings. rather than bloodlines. although the first trip to a restaurant could be fraught with peril. After the revolutionary decade (1790s). In addition to broths. In new maisons de santé (“health houses”) or salles du restaurateur (“restaurateur’s rooms”) the caterers aimed to appeal to clients by providing the health-giving decoctions on a flexible schedule. AND ENJOYMENT The largely unsung hero of the modern working class and middle class table was the eclectic aristocrat turned food critic Alexandre Balthazar Laurent Grimod de la Reynière (1758–1837). exporting abroad for commercial purposes not just la cuisine française (French cooking) but.Historical Overview 27 designated a “restorative” soup or bouillon made from meat or fowl that was reduced to a rich essence. some private cooks who had been employed in great houses had to start over. salubrious preparations could also. and Véry. either within the country or elsewhere. soft-boiled eggs.

critics. eaters. Instead of the old service à la française. Good taste and knowledge now emerged from interactions among producers and consumers. This allowed the eater to fully appreciate each food at the peak of its perfection and to enjoy it hot. and writers and readers. boutiques. in part for the advertising. The latter interfered with the flow of goods so necessary to support fine dining. Simplicity made the method adaptable for modest households. At the same time. The service of a full meal in separate courses became standard in the most elegant and expensive contexts by the 1860s. Despite his own distinguished. the food critic. or chefs and eaters. and writers. too. He was an early advocate of serving in the style then called à la russe (Russian style). To protest the former. What is remarkable is that fashion in food no longer emanated from exclusive removes associated with the centralized power (the court. he soon tired of Napoleon’s all-conquering military sweep across Europe and worried over the hostilities with Britain. the . while resting assured that he had a similar portion to his neighbor. for instance. During the national conversion to the metric system and uniform system of weights and measures. Grimod’s system had its coercive aspects. Food producers did so.13 During the Napoleonic Empire (1804–1815). the German states. all belonged to a consumer culture that was expanding in many domains.28 Food Culture in France connoisseur’s canon of laws for the table. and consumers. the same is true for the complex relationships that exist today among food producers. but rather from establishments open to the public (or at least. Like many others of his time. he championed (from his desk chair and dining table—Parisian central command for gastronomic operations) specialties of. Grimod had a strong sense of duty as a public advocate. such as the fine mineral waters. Each preparation should come to the table completely prepared and perfectly done. He recommended that meals be simplified. This meant that he persuaded caterers and restaurateurs to give him samples of their wares. Grimod’s guides fueled the nascent gastronomic industry made up of restaurants. Grimod vociferously criticized unscrupulous shopkeepers and traders who took advantage of the situation to overcharge customers or short-weight meats or produce. he invented (in 1804) a clever system for judging quality and “legitimating” all that was best to eat. Grimod preferred that each service or course of a meal consist of a single dish. He disdained the old aristocratic preference for ostentation. and in part for fear of reprisal from this fearsome new species of ally-adversary. meat stews. and steamed dumplings. the wealthier segments) and from the response of that public. through nearly the end of the preceding century). Today. Grimod had a modern taste for comfort and enjoyment. exceedingly wealthy origins.

The chef Antonin or Marie-Antoine Carême (1783–1833). a history of science culminating with “the science of gastronomy” triumphant. gossipy anecdotes. If Grimod mobilized a comprehensive revolution at the table. where he taught French and music and famously shot a wild turkey in the “virgin forests” of Connecticut before making his way back home. Brillat’s cheerful. is fundamental to the understanding of nearly everything. a discussion of the “Influence of Gourmandise on Marital Bliss. in Brillat’s view. and nearly everything makes its way into his book.” recommendations for fattening and slimming diets. Food appreciation. jokes for enlivening a dinner party—all have their place in the Physiologie. 1826). Brillat was a magistrate who fled France during the Terror. ceremonial yet simple structure is typical for any full meal. sociable banter demystified dining rituals formerly associated with grand tables and endeared the author to generations of readers. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/ regard public-unpact.Historical Overview 29 Enjoyment is the best praise for good cooking. like Grimod and Brillat. the more famous writer Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755–1826) spread the word with the deliciously amusing Physiologie du goût (Physiology of Taste. Notes on the physical faculties of taste and digestion. ending up in New England. observations not only on feasting and fasting but also on thirst. participated both in the ancien and in the nouveau . whether served at home or in a restaurant.

contemporary studies of eating out. treatment by novelists. All the same.30 Food Culture in France régimes—political. industrialization favored urbanization. He authored several volumes on pastry-making and cooking. By that time. and a steady stream of people left the country for the northern and eastern coal-mining cities and places such as Lille. His cooking was famous for its variety. including Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (wily politician. The nineteenth-century population was predominantly rural and agricultural. and dietary. but he felt strongly that magnificence and elaborate decoration had their place on the table. the Bourbon monarchy restored in 1815) and Baron James de Rothschild. and Rouen. The employment of highly accomplished private cooks in many wealthy and upper middle class houses continued until well after the mid-twentieth century. and delicacy of flavor. The socialist politics of the 1980s finally made the situation somewhat embarrassing for at least some employers. As a cook for fancy clients. NINETEENTH-CENTURY RESTAURANTS Restaurant culture expanded rapidly during the nineteenth century. He was a private chef in the old style who served some of the most prominent individuals in Europe. preferring jobs that better integrated them into the professional community of cooks. and documents such as balance sheets and menus give a sense of why this was so. social. 1833). and he preferred a modified version of service à la française. Carême was also a self-made man and phenomenal selfpromoter who achieved fame and professional success in a thoroughly modern fashion. including the great oeuvre heavily entitled Art de la cuisine française au 19e siècle: Traité élémentaire et pratique suivi de dissertations culinaires et gastronomiques utiles au progrès de cet art (Art of French Cuisine in the Nineteenth Century: Basic and Practical Treatise Followed by Culinary and Gastronomic Dissertations Useful to the Progress of this Art. He was a great fan of the expensive truffle and other such luxuries. Mulhouse. the Napoleonic Empire. few people capable of cooking on a high level cared to work as private servants. he clearly had a professional interest in avoiding the truly modern simplicity advocated by Grimod. sense of proportion. which had mechanized factories . rakish bishop. Carême had nothing good to say about the use of spices. The five-volume cookbook (the last two volumes were finished by his executors after his death) modernizes aristocratic grande cuisine for the grand bourgeois table. and notable gastronome who served under several administrations: the republican Directory of the late 1790s. The accounts of travelers and memoirists.

Historical Overview


beginning in the 1830s. Restaurants, at this juncture, like the taverns and cafés that preceded them, opened primarily in cities and were a mainstay of workers. Quality of the food, ambience, and price varied, as they do today. The multiplication of fancy restaurants during the First Empire had fostered a connoisseur culture peopled by the new food critics and gastronomes, as well as ostentatious consumption by high rollers of various stripes. This grande cuisine or haute cuisine culminated late in the century in the cooking and cookbooks of chef Auguste Escoffier (1846–1935) and in dining rooms within the new “palaces” or grand hotels. But an equally or perhaps even more remarkable phenomenon was the spread of decent but inexpensive restaurants that served a modest prix fixe (fixed price) menu aimed at a middle class clientele. Such menus listed prices for full meals in three or four courses, not for individual items, giving one a package deal. Workers favored inexpensive bouillon shops, where they chose from a limited range of à la carte (individually listed) items served in small portions; the series of beef and bouillon restaurants opened in the 1860s by the butcher Duval are an early example of a chain restaurant. Dairy restaurants were also popular among the working classes. Cheap gargotes catered to the impecunious, such as students and laborers. Guinguettes (outdoor cafés and dance-halls) opened seasonally outside city limits to avoid the municipal taxes. The café-concerts had music as well as coffee, alcohol, and food. Restaurants de nuit had dancing and usually a dubious reputation. Menus in these diverse restaurants had in common that they varied by season and offered three and sometimes four courses to compose a full meal. Two massive studies based on interviews of workers begun in the mid-nineteenth century, Pierre-Guillaume-Frédéric Le Play’s Ouvriers Européens (European Workers, 1855) and the collective work completed by his followers entitled the Ouvriers des Deux Mondes (Workers from Two Worlds, 1859–1930), show that motivations for frequenting restaurants were diverse. These ranged from periodic indulgence or overindulgence in food and wine, usually right after payday, to making oneself available for encounters that would drum up business and increase one’s income. Sometimes one simply purchased at a restaurant what was needed to supplement the essentials of a meal brought from home.14 In many cases, small, cramped city apartments without amenities for cooking made eating out a matter of necessity. New lighting technologies—stable-burning oil lamps (by the 1790s), gas lamps (1860s), and electricity (1880s)—strategically adopted by businesses increased the appeal of restaurants and lengthened opening hours.15 The legacy of the affordable public eating culture has


Food Culture in France

been quite influential. Today, motivations for eating out differ, but it is typical that throughout the country one can eat a meal of decent quality outside the home without breaking the bank.

In the late nineteenth century, outside of the cities with their mechanized factories and restaurant culture, the picture was quite different. Twothirds of the population lived in rural areas and villages. The lifestyle was agricultural, and farming was essentially preindustrial; it is ironic that in this era, Third Republic (1870–1940) politicians famously justified ambitious colonial expansion as a mission civilisatrice or mission to civilize and assist in the modernization of the occupied countries. At home, meals for most people still reflected the aim of self-sufficiency. With the exception of a few items such as salt, sugar, and coffee that had to be purchased, what was eaten came from the kitchen garden or the family farm. For farmers, still called paysans (peasants or country people), main meals were built around soups, which stretched ingredients as far as possible. Other staples were the garden vegetables that stored well: potatoes, carrots, cabbages, and beans. If animals were kept, butter and eggs could be sold. If a pig was killed, it was pickled or smoked, to last the whole 12-month cycle.16 Bread came from the village baker, or might still be baked at home. For those who lived and—for the moment, stayed—in the country, it was not so much the texture or material aspect of life but rather attitudes that underwent a certain revision. The early years of the Third Republic were characterized by a mix of nationalism and protectionism, on the one hand, and democratic ideals and liberal economic policies, on the other. The relationship among village bread baker, priest, and schoolmaster in the classic film La Femme du boulanger (The Baker’s Wife, 1939) poignantly depicts the difficult changing of the conceptual guard.17 The 1880s had brought free, compulsory primary school education for all children and the abolishment of religious education in public schools. The schoolmaster was charged to represent the Republic and universally to inculcate its values in his pupils. He supplanted the priest as an exemplary figure in villages. At the same time, at least in some rural areas, the routines of everyday life had hardly changed. In the film, when the village baker is deserted by his wayward wife, he becomes so distraught that he cannot make bread, and the village begins to worry about its stomach. Priest and schoolmaster, who conversed by peevish argument, now join forces to—of all things— ford a stream to reach the baker’s wife and coax her into returning home. The priest is hampered by the voluminous skirts of his cassock and suffers

Historical Overview


being carried on the shoulders of the teacher, who wears a modern (and masculine) suit. The waters part neither for the priest nor for the teacher. The teacher seems better equipped to meet the challenges of modern life, but the priest has a practiced bedside manner. Both are instrumental in reestablishing harmony and unity in their community. Communion in the village is now secular. It takes place at the baker’s and in each family’s dining room, as much as in the church, with the baker’s bread rather than the host distributed by the priest, and over the sociable glass of pastis (anise liqueur typical in the South) taken at the one village café rather than with the sip of consecrated wine. The film presents a nostalgic, idealized vision of village life, yet it is also accurate in some of the essentials. It is notable that rituals of communion—or community—persist so strongly. Participation in the collectivity of the village and shared cultural memory exert a strong force.

Industrialization brought the looming threat that the individual character of foods and food production, associated with quality and safety, could be obliterated by impersonal processes beyond the ken of consumers or of most producers. Adulteration of wine, either to doctor the flavor or to attempt to preserve it, had always been a problem, although some practices were considered acceptable. Fraud and the definition of words complicated the issue. For instance, “wine” made from raisins rather than fresh grapes technically was made from grapes. In the late nineteenth century, new chemical processes of synthesis forced people to imagine the weird possibility that a liquid sold as wine might not be made from grapes at all.18 Wine, bread, and meat were the essential sources of calories for urban workers. A further strain was caused by increased demand for wine in the cities at the same time that a devastating string of contagions decimated vines in the countryside. Destructive mildews, grape phylloxera (a kind of aphid) and other plagues caused wine production to plummet in the 15 years from 1875 to 1889 to a mere quarter of earlier levels. A hygenics movement concerned with the rise in alcoholism insisted that it was the modern adulterated wines that were causing problems. The ancestral beverage of the Gauls, on the other hand, was touted as nourishing and healthy. The regulations and attitudes that emerged were part of the reaction to the complex of issues presented by industrialization, production in difficult times, and rising demand. Laws passed in the late nineteenth century provided ever more precise descriptive definitions of wines and methods of wine production.


Food Culture in France

The Griffe Law of 1889 specified that “No one shall expedite, sell, or cause to be sold under the name of wine any product other than that deriving from the fermentation of fresh grapes.” This was le vin naturel or “natural wine.” Vin factice, which meant “artificial” or “elaborated” or “synthetic” wine, was not condemned, but it was now clearly to be distinguished from “natural” wine. The idea was that information would orient people to choose “natural” wine; fraud, it was assumed, would be eliminated as a consequence. When this did not happen, more interventionist statutes were passed to prevent certain types of adulteration. Notably, a new law passed in 1894 forbade mouillage or stretching wine with water (from mouiller, to wet or moisten) and vinage or increasing the alcohol content by adding must. Mouillage did not threaten the health of anybody who drank the treated wine, but the motivation for making it illegal was to promote transparency in business transactions. The longstanding law of 1905 against fraud enlarged on this idea, leading to debate among winemakers and finally to a new statute in 1907 that precisely detailed how words such as vin (wine) and méthode champenoise (Champagne-making method) should be used to correspond to specific processes of production. Later in the century, socialist and protectionist politics continued in the same direction of regulation, but for different reasons than the earlier laws inspired by liberal motives. Strict regulation of fraud and a politics of quality served the national economic interest; for the same reason, the concern for public health became another primary motive for food regulation.

Late nineteenth-century regionalism and the retour à la terre (“return to the soil” or peasantism) that flourished between the two World Wars contributed to defining the singular nature of foods through terroir. To be sure, neither regional specialty nor the term terroir was anything new. GalloRomans knew that their best oysters came from Brittany and Normandy and that there were no better hams than those from Bayonne. The royal tables of the absolutist era groaned under the weight of what was best from all over France. In the first decades of the nineteenth century, Grimod de la Reynière advocated gastronomic tourism, writing that one had to travel to Riom (Auvergne) to eat the best frogs legs, properly prepared by a knowledgeable local expert. In 1808, the lawyer and pharmacist Charles Louis Cadet de Gassicourt published a carte gastronomique (gastronomic map) keyed with small pictures to show the typical foods for each region and town. Awareness of regional particularity increased throughout the

the term terroir is as old as the hills that it long designated. One speaks of a wine or a food. or the specific vineyard within a geographical region or even a town. and taste that defines good-quality. the elongated strawberries originally grown in scrublands. Whereas American wines are identified first by the name of the grape (merlot. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. as trains and other forms of transport made it easier to travel and also to perceive regional variations. topography (slope. at that point. winegrowers from the Médoc region . components of terroir include the climate (temperature. chemistry. French wines are identified first by the place from which they come: a Côtes-du-Rhône. The specificity that informs terroir also underpins the Appellation d’origine contrôlée or AOC (Controlled Denomination of Origin). a Bordeaux. sunlight. cabernet. manufacturing process. A person’s way of speaking. dirt) and territoire (territory. Like regional specialty. such as the cépage (type of vine or grape: gamay. In the nineteenth century. rainfall) of the location where the grapes are grown. are named second. inexpensive Spanish and Portuguese wines were cutting out French wines from European markets. Bordeaux wines. Today. or the human element. the term terroir is used to evoke the connection among place. area). as they are today. and so on) and the year or vintage. interaction with water). For wine. and soil (its physical characteristics. As a way of competing.Historical Overview 35 century and was key both for rallying nationalist sentiment and stimulating the tourist industry. artisanal wines and foods. if redolent of the countryside. Terroir is related to terre (earth. was called the accent of his terroir. Regulations for the AOC derive from classifications for Bordeaux wines instituted in the mid-nineteenth century. A food or wine with the taste of terroir is understood in opposition to commercial or industrial fast food and supermarket products seen as sterile and impersonal. Of Latin origin. Terroir also includes historical and cultural practices of the people involved. of unclear provenance and little savor. pinot noir) from which they are made. Additional details. This meaning of the term terroir informs the familiar French metonymy for wine. the term took on an association with other characteristics perceived as local. the effort to decentralize culture from Paris into the provinces led to cooperation between the state and the regions to develop local identities. were not known as being unusually good or even very distinctive. such as lamb from the prés-salés (salt marshes) and garriguettes. as having the goût du (taste of) terroir. During the twentieth century. a Chablis. altitude). the term has been used in French since the thirteenth century to mean a plot of land suitable for cultivation.

To improve quality.36 Food Culture in France applied themselves to strategically developing grands crus or distinguished Bordeaux wines that stand up to long aging and command very high prices. as imitations of the distinguished bottles came on the market. and the mode of production of a variety of products. The prestigious labels were not easy to obtain. from the poulet de Bresse (Bresse Village appellation red burgundy from the Côte de Beaune district of the Côte d’Or. As a measure of protection for their exceptional wines. Along the way. . they carefully cultivated the oldest and best vines. the premier cru designation was awarded to wines from four estates. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. Today. the AOC certifies the place of origin. This reinforced the connection between the place where grapes where grown and the resulting wine. proprietors evolved special classifications that were applied beginning in 1855. More capacious legislation passed in 1935 established the Appellation d’origine contrôlée. The fraud laws became important for winemakers. these growers also consolidated the cultivated parcels on their estates. the specific type. They paid special attention to aging the reds in oak barrels. In 1990. In the first year. the AOC was expanded to cover all manner of foods as well as wines.19 The many winemakers whom the grades excluded naturally wished to obtain some sort of distinguishing label for their own bottles. The best label of premier cru (first growth) and even the least distinguished label of cinquième cru (fifth growth) vastly increased the market value of these wines. which could be applied to wines from locations other than in Bordeaux. The fifth estate was not added until 1973.

The passage of the European legislation coincided. . Because the designation AOC indicates a historical pedigree and also functions something like a patent for the final product. with the reduction of trade barriers within the member Farmer selling artichokes. practical form to the appreciation for quality and particularity. The AOC also functions as a protectionist measure that is a boon to sellers and producers and to tourism. laws pertaining to food must now be negotiated within that framework. radishes. It embodies the general acknowledgment that food with the best flavor and the most appealing textures may result from carefully. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. ironically. overseen processes of cultivation and manufacture. Today the European Commission administers a set of indications based on geography and origin for food and wine in all the member states. extensive research and documentation are necessary to establish the application dossier for a food. even painstakingly. In 1992. to various fruits. and lettuce at market shortly before the conversion in 2002 from the French franc to the Euro as the unit of currency. the European Community Council passed regulations based on the French AOC that extend to all the member states. and including some of the vins de table (table wines).Historical Overview 37 chicken) and beurre d’Isigny-Sainte-Mère (Isigny-Sainte-Mère butter). FRANCE AND EUROPE Because of membership in the European Union. The certification of the AOC gives a concrete.

6. 1393). Juan de Castellanos. 1992). or even much reduce. De observatione ciborum (On the Observance of Foods). 36. This has led. 636 and 674. 1969). 2 vols. But these stances hardly prevent ongoing engagement with European projects. translator and editor Mark Grant (Totnes. Compliance with European economic policy imposes common standards on member nations. Brereton and Janet M. at present. Le Mesnagier de Paris (ca. translator Jeremiah F. in Capitulare de villis. 1996). Satires (1663–1701). On the Governance of God (c. 4. editor Carlrichard Brühl (Stuttgart: Müller und Schindler. published Madrid: 1886). 440s). LXX. Nicolas Boileau. 254 Helmst. 8.. 1538. France is notorious for refusing to abandon. cod. Salaman. 3. Devon: Prospect Books. on occasion. This includes a relatively liberal approach toward free trade and privatization. 829–36). NOTES 1. 189–90 and Bonnie Effros. The History and Social Influence of the Potato (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 16. guelf. III and VII. 1910). “Volumus quod in horto omnes herbas habeant…” (We want that all the plants be cultivated in the garden…).38 Food Culture in France states of the European Union. from The Writings of Salvian. 1 (Paris: GarnierFlammarion. Karolus Imperator Capitulare de Villis. translator Lewis Thorpe (London: Folio Society. Gordon Whatley (Durham: Duke University Press. 1947). 1970). Despite compliance in other areas. a popular vote defeated a referendum to approve the proposed draft of a European Constitution. 2. 61. translator Karin Ueltschi (Paris: Librarie Générale Française. for fear of the consequences that greater liberalism could have on cherished social protections and on the quality of life. At the time. Historia del Nuevo Reino de Granada (ca. Salvian of Marseille. 54. 5. Cited in Redcliffe N. Anthimus. 1949). 64–67. the negative vote was seen as a major setback for Europe. Creating Community with Food and Drink in Merovingian Gaul (New York: Palgrave Macmillan. in Oeuvres vol. Einhard the Frank. Halborg with E. der August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel. the primary challenge is to balance the particular concerns of France with the larger endeavors of Europe. 7. Rather. 2002). O’Sullivan (New York: Cima Publishing Company. Cited in Sainted Women of the Dark Ages. to conflicts of interest. Vita Sadalbergae abbatissae Laudunensis 20. 1994). Ferrier. editors Georgina E. the Presbyter. editors and translators Jo Ann McNamara and John E. In the spring of 2005. they simply make clear that. subsidies in place since the early 1960s for its farmers. editor Bruno Krusch. in Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores rerum merovingicarum 5 (Hanover: Impensis bibliopolii Hahniani. Life of Charlemagne (ca. . 1971).

Cinquième année (Paris: Maradan. editor Alessandro Stanziani (Paris: Belin. 18. and in French Culture. Dana Strand. Martin Breugel.” in La qualité des produits en France (XVIIIe-XXe siècles). 10. Emile. 233. 1994). 13. 99–118 in Food. “Eating Out during the Workday: Consumption and Working Habits among Urban Labourers in France in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century. Vintages and Traditions (Washington: Smithsonian Institution. 2003). Ulin. 263–80 in Jacobs and Scholliers. Almanach des gourmands. “Readers Respond to Rousseau: The Fabrication of Romantic Sensitivity. Robert C. 15. and ‘La Francité’: From le pain quotidien to McDo.” pp. 1807). . den Hartog.. 12. 16. 1985). Weiss (New York: Routledge. 123–50. ou de l’éducation (1762). Adel P. 19. Jean-Jacques Rousseau.” pp. The Hollow Years: France in the 1930s (New York: Norton. Schehr and Allen S. 17. Alessandro Stanziani. The Invention of the Restaurant (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Eugen Weber. “Film. 2000). 46–50.” pp. 203–20. 1996). “Technological Innovations and Eating Out as a Mass Phenomenon in Europe. Robert Darnton. 2001). 2003). 37. New York: Vintage Books. Eating Out in Europe (Oxford: Berg. 1966). eds. Food. 337–49 in Marc Jacobs and Peter Scholliers.” in The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History (1984. editor Peter Scholliers (Oxford: Berg. 11. 194.” in French Food: On the Table. Drink and Identity. 14. Grimod de la Reynière. 1880–1914. 2001). “A Bourgeois Good? Sugar.Historical Overview 39 9. Rebecca Spang. on the Page. “La construction de la qualité du vin. editors Lawrence R. Book 2 (Paris: Garnier-Flammarion. Anne Lhuissier. Norms of Consumption and the Labouring Classes in Nineteenth-Century France.


say. Only a century ago. and eponymous exports such as Champagne. and. This is due to the diversity of agricultural production. The taste for. to long-standing traditions of cultivation and of practices such as hunting. Even so. baked goods—and the digestif (after-dinner drink) appear at the end. followed by vegetables. as well as the typical preparations give beef a special flavor in France. about three . Americans are of course quite familiar with items such as beef. Dessert—fruits. To present the major foods and ingredients.2 Major Foods and Ingredients An astounding variety of foods are eaten in France. The language has numerous expressions that refer to bread. for instance. the common orchard fruits. as well as a powerful religious symbol. more recently. A slang word for a job is gagne-pain. this chapter broadly follows the structure of the traditional meal in courses. then cheese. different butchering practices. BREAD For centuries. Your pain quotidien (daily bread) is the food that you count on eating every day. bread was a staple of the diet. To “take the bread out of someone’s mouth” is to rob him of his livelihood. each person ate 500 grams (on the order of a half-pound) daily. grated raw celery root salad with a cream dressing—a favorite bistro lunch—may come as a a surprise. because it is how you earn (gagner) the bread that keeps you alive. and meat come first. wine. to the many imports. Today. Bread. Horse is not treated as food in the United States.

and restaurants. as a matter of course. and moister on the inside. or four slices of bread is average. delicately crispy. Rustic . by weight. In cafés. similarly long but half the diameter. that is.42 Food Culture in France Buying a baguette at the boulangerie Au pain chô in Sainte Maxime. Bread is rarely made at home.5 inches). Recent interest in eating whole grains for health has brought dark breads back into fashion. Bread—no matter how small the quantity—makes a meal complete. that is. and darker bread made from unrefined wheat or rye was typical for the poor. A slim relative of the baguette is the ficelle (string). for country-style loaves. and the crumb chewy and delicate. or pas trop cuite (baked less). slices of bread are placed on the table in a basket to accompany food. Large round boules used to be a staple. although it is eaten all over the country. thin. At best. the crust is crispy. The bâtard (bastard) is a free-form loaf named for the mixed leavening agents—both yeast and a sour-dough starter—used to make it. The long (70 cm or 27. The dough rising on the racks at the back of the shop awaits baking. darker and dryer. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. rather in boulangeries (bakery shops) or industrial bakeries. crusty white baguette is typical of Paris. taken out of the oven when it is still pale gold. bistros. In a bakery the baguette can be purchased bien cuite (well cooked). Breads are identified by name and.

The taste for croûtons (toasted slices of bread) with soup remains. In Paris. assassins. and other cities with Jewish communities. wine consumption averaged 170 liters (45 gallons) per person yearly. In the mid-nineteenth century. such as proofing with sourdough or wheat flour starter instead of with fast-rising yeast. Panade is a carryover from poorer days and peasant traditions. They require more labor. effectively sterilized through the presence of alcohol. They choose better ingredients. some bakers have begun to reverse this trend. France is the premier producer in the world. Sprinkled on top of a dish of meat. and attention from the baker. As recently as the late 1930s. the artisanal methods result in bread that has a deeper flavor. The “different” wines drunk by rag-pickers. The old-style processes are slower. Most bread is sliced in the kitchen or at table. earthly contentment. spiritual transcendence. however. When bread-baking practices were standardized and mechanized in the second half of the twentieth century. poet Charles Baudelaire evoked the infinitely variable “soul” of wine in a series of poems. about a half-liter (the better part of a pint) each day.Major Foods and Ingredients 43 pains de campagne (country breads) can be enriched with dried figs. The old-style breads cost more than industrially produced loaves but taste so much better that people seek them out. They use older processes. beer. poetic inspiration. or stoneground flours. and they accompany fish soups. In certain métiers or trades. as well as bagels covered with poppy or sesame seeds. Metz. olives. such as among . and deep sleep. Bread and crumbs have numerous uses in cooking. quality declined. Today. or else broken off in chunks. they form an attractive crust. unrefined. WINE Wine has been produced on French soil since antiquity. The high level of alcohol consumption led to high levels of liver problems and alcoholism. and lovers. responsible for a fifth of global production. a safe beverage that gives life and strength. vegetables. Recently. it really was often safer to drink wine. a silkier and more elastic crumb. to eat with a meal. the braided loaf fortified with eggs that is eaten on the Sabbath. and cider. Wine was usually mixed with water. when adding bread to soup made a heartier meal. Wine has long been thought of as hygienic and nourishing. It usually was drunk mixed with water. or potatoes that is baked in the oven. Before the modern understanding of water cleanliness and contamination. Jewish bakeries sell challah. skill. Croûtons are placed in the bottom of onion soup bowls. such as organic. and better keeping qualities. and nuts. not to mention poets1 lead variously to drunkenness (either divine or simply boorish).

and others sweeter. although combinations ultimately depend on personal preference. Some are lighter and simpler in flavor. harmonious. people drink water and wine.75 gallons) of wine per person each year. as heavy drinking is now understood to threaten health and safety. each brings out the tastes and textures of the other to best advantage. economic. tannery workers. It is one of the components that contributes to making a meal complete—structured. Wine sets off food. The average stands at approximately 60 liters (15. and religious significance contribute to the importance of wine. and wine is integrated into meals. For an everyday meal. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. This causes concern for colleagues. old drinking traditions have not disappeared. diluting wine with water is now quite rare. it is essential to the culture of the table. Some wines are dryer. or less than one glass each day. the national beverage. and balanced—and as enjoyable as possible. wine is drunk undiluted but in smaller quantities. Dry Champagne marries well . Although only one in four French men and women regularly drinks wine. Tradition and experiment suggest rules of thumb for pairing wine and food. taking them separately. having less sugar.44 Food Culture in France Historical. others richer and more complex. The individual flavor and character of each wine derives from the grapes as well as from the production processes. Alcoholic beverages generally are always accompanied by food. and vice versa. A separate wine for each course is de rigueur for formal and celebration meals. Today.

Cooking assigns wine a large number of tasks. MEAT In today’s affluent society. The gut-searing piquette of days past has practically disappeared. if red). Poured cold over fruit or berries.Major Foods and Ingredients 45 with just about anything and may be drunk throughout an entire meal. On average. but imports to meet the large demand for cuts such as steaks and roasts. although the modern lifestyle prefers fast. It raises more than enough for its own population. They are best drunk within at most a few months. Such bottles are not meant to be kept or aged after bottling. wine is a cooking medium for meat stews and bean dishes. Although wine drinking overall has declined. They have invented succulent dishes that use all parts of animals slaughtered for meat. The alcohol cooks off. Dry white wines accompany fish or seafood to good effect. simple preparations. most people simply purchase inexpensive bottles along with the rest of the groceries. wine forms a marinade. Red wines that are light in character complement chicken dishes. wine is poured in over high heat to deglaze the pan and mix with the meat juices to form a sauce. Fruit macerated or soaked in wine acquires tenderness as well as flavor. although for the moment the trend to eat significantly less meat occurs largely at the highest rungs of the economic ladder. each person eats 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of meat yearly. only slightly behind Australians (110 kilograms or 242 pounds yearly) and Americans (105 kilograms or 231 pounds) as the biggest consumers of meat in the world. Today. In larger amounts. French cooks have the reputation of being creative and frugal. period. the trend is to drink better quality wines. veal. consumption of la viande (meat) is high. These are the exceptional wines that mature and develop over time (measured in years). France is the foremost producer of meat in the European Union. Standards and methods of production vastly improved throughout the twentieth century. and Monbazillac pair with foie gras or with a salty appetizer at the beginning of a meal. there are few vegetarians in France. leaving only the flavor (and color. Meat is the centerpiece for most main meals. improving over a long. Bordeaux. although finite. such as red meats and cheese. even the cheapest vin ordinaire (everyday wine) tends to be of decent quality. . ingenious and resourceful. the consumption of fine wines has doubled. Both whites and reds are used for flavoring. Since 1975. Full-bodied red wines from Burgundy. Of course. and charcuterie. After a piece of meat is sautéed in a pan. Concerns for health are causing perceptible shifts in this pattern. and Languedoc set off sturdy or rich savory foods. wasting nothing. Sweet white wines such as Sauternes. any Muscat.

according to preference. Large quantities of horse bones at Upper Pleistocene sites at Solutré. Gregory III in 732.” rare). Cheval (horse). highly flavored condiments. Thicker steaks are eaten bleu (“blue. Veal is considered white meat. the preferred hunting method was to drive large numbers of them off the edge of a cliff. Lamb. date the consumption of horse to prehistoric times. and boeuf Bourguignon. For hachis parmentier (shepherd’s pie). and small onions. Provençal boeuf en daube. in Burgundy. eating horse was frowned upon. meat for stewing. Potau-feu combines several types of meat for a rich boiled dinner. grilled. or à point (medium rare). and Goat Studded with garlic and perfumed with rosemary. much of it imported from the United States. including chopped onion. Tastes do not run to well-cooked steaks. and broiling. Nearly all methods of cooking are used for beef: boiling. sautéed. Horse. Before horses were domesticated. as the practice was associated with pagan rituals. rather than red.” quite rare). stews cooked in an earthenware pot with a conical cover and a hole in the top like a chimney through which the steam escapes. pickles. Venison. a roasted gigot d’agneau (leg of lamb) is the favorite celebration or Sunday meal. grilling. Beef or horse chopped up and eaten raw is tartare. Cuts of veal are roasted. ground beef is arranged in a baking pan between two layers of potatoes mashed with milk. and racks (with bones in) for roasting. Overcooking dries out the meat. salt. leaving only the concentrated flavors of the dish. Fattier cuts of beef are cut into small chunks or cubes. because of its color. roasting. then served cut in squares. frying. stewing. The delicate. Lamb gives chops. or beef stew with Burgundy. and parsley. Two popes. Thin steaks are accompanied by fried potatoes for steak-frites. saignant (“bloody. bacon. mushrooms. In the early Christian era. braising. are typical regional dishes. such as Moroccan tagines. sweet-tasting raw meat is garnished with pungent.46 Food Culture in France Beef and Veal Most boeuf (beef) comes from the powerful white Charolais cows originally used as draft animals or from cows formerly bred for milk: the black-and-white Normande and the Salers from the Auvergne. flavored with red wine and orange peel. and . capers. then cooked slowly to make stews. It features in recipes adopted from the cuisines of France’s former colonies. sautéing. ruining the flavor as well as the texture. The dish is baked. mustard. is eaten on a smaller scale than in the past. pepper. The cuts of meat are more numerous and smaller. or stewed. sometimes a raw egg is broken over the tartare. French butchering practices differ from American.

wild pig) is also cooked using similar methods as for pork. Chevreau (kid) is eaten in the South in the early spring. Pieds de porc (trotters. By the nineteenth century. chops. stews. smoking and drying preserved meat that could not be consumed right away and must be stored against hunger. Pork and Charcuterie Porc (pork) is relatively inexpensive and served in roasts. meaty fresh bacon. the government promoted horsemeat. charcuterie was food for the poor. It is prepared like good-quality beef. which would be slaughtered for its meat. Horse enjoyed a short-lived rise in popularity after the mad cow scares of the 1990s. More than any other meat.Major Foods and Ingredients 47 Zaccharias in 751. and vegetables. primarily in stewed and braised dishes. Chevreuil (venison) is available in markets and on restaurant menus in the form of steaks. and ribs. or pickled. In the 1850s. opened in Paris. smoking. Lardons are strips or cubes of pork back fat or lean salt pork that are seasoned. and garnish salads. A few of the specialized butcher shops remain. and dried sausages. forbade eating horsemeat.”2 He meant that nearly every part is edible. some preparations are marked with the AOC (Controlled Denomination of Origin). pork takes to processing through salting. any horsemeat that was available was cheap because it was unpopular. or boucherie hippophagique. Their interdictions affected consumption throughout Europe. added to stews. fillets. In 1808. the first boucherie chevaline. lean. farm-raised sanglier (boar. In 1866. the food writer Grimod de la Reynière praised the pig as “encyclopedic” and a “generous animal. The range of charcuterie—cured and cooked preparations primarily from pork—testifies to the ingenuity of generations of butchers and charcutiers. Today. A cochon de lait (suckling pig) is roasted whole. In a historically rural country. steaks. such as chopped raw and garnished in tartare or cooked as steaks and cutlets. Chèvre (goat) is eaten on Corsica. and productivity would rise. potatoes. and then fried or baked. Small pieces flavor omelets. The dictum Tout est bon dans le cochon (Everything from the pig is good) echoes this observation. drying. pigs’ feet) are braised. In the past. Lard. Today. including the skin. the taste for charcuterie is general. and pan-fried to add to . then tucked into a roast. enrich soups and stews. Whereas the wealthy could afford freshly slaughtered meat. it was a mark of prosperity to be able to keep a pig. especially in the Paris region and in the Northeast toward Belgium. on the principle that it would improve the diet of the laboring classes. Horse is darker red than beef. is indispensable. and flavorful. and pickling. sausages.

like the Italian treatment of prosciutto. derive from the two forequarters and hindquarters. lumpy Jésus de Morteau was originally a Christmas sausage. then pan-fried. wrote an offal feast into his novel Gargantua (1534): Les tripes furent copieuses. Boudin noir (blood sausage) is coagulated beef or pig blood. and is purplish-black in color. marinated. Les abats are the rest: organ meats. creamy. Rillettes are served sliced into rounds and spread on crusty bread or toast to accompany an apéritif such as a glass of dry white wine. such as whole peppercorns. It is double-cooked: lightly poached. boiled and smoked. soaked. oily texture and a sharp flavor from the salt. shoulder. chewy texture and a swirly appearance from the strips that compose it. the head. and gullet. French hams are less salty than American. the meat breaks down into a smooth. and then cooked. salty hams sliced paper-thin are eaten with figs and slices of melon. the enormous. It appears in the spectacular cold preparation jambon persillé from Burgundy. Saucisses de Morteau. Rillettes. or steaks and roasts. and crisp. jewel-like slices. native to Tours. Saucisses or fresh sausages require cooking before being consumed. The “noble” cuts. mass. outstanding when cooked on a grill. Franç ois Rabelais. Offal has always been the cheapest meat.48 Food Culture in France salads. salty. butchers call les abats (offal) the cinquième quartier (fifth quarter) of a slaughtered animal. Some hearty stews are based on chunks of fresh ham. professor. is a finely textured pork sausage made from bits of the belly. kidneys. Braised in fat. comme entendez. Jambons (hams). Dry sausages have a firm. Andouille or andouillettes is chitterling sausage. and none have a sweet coating on the outside. and brains—were often reserved for feasts or celebrations. . rich. the priest turned physician. and other spices that flavor them. It has a soft. Offal In defiance of mathematics. Sliced andouille has a firm. although the choice pieces—calf livers. as part of a light lunch. are a staple. smoked. Richly fatty. pepper. Ham is eaten as an appetizer. pale. glands. or sliced into an omelet or quiche. and scribbler. Dry. the feet. Whole green pistachios may add sweetness and crunch to a hunter’s venison sausage. Merguez are spiced beef or lamb sausages of North African origin. with vegetables and spices added for flavor. lardons are served to accompany a before-dinner drink. Bits of pink ham and chopped bright green parsley are molded in clear aspic to make colorful. unctuous texture. boiling sausages. whereas saucisses sèches or saucissons secs (dry or salamitype sausages) need only to be sliced. are recognized by their seal and a tiny wooden peg tied into the end of the sausage. made of pig intestines and stomach that are cleaned.

cooked. pintade (Guinea fowl). however. or lamb is boiled or braised. turkey is in demand year round. then fried or sautéed.. and dinde or dindon (turkey) are eaten. Beef kidney requires braising. calf. although domestic demand increases for organic and free-range birds. Cut into pieces. The langue (tongue) from a cow. Lamb or calf cervelles (brains) are marinated. tripe acquires an apple flavor from cider or Calvados. There are few specialist tripiers these days. pigeonneau (squab). traditionally overnight. but pork and lamb kidneys are eaten as well. canard (duck). Tête de veau (calf’s head) is carefully boned so that the features are maintained. Elegant suprême de poulet is a chicken breast stuffed with vegetables sliced very fine. and ready to eat. then garnished with a red wine sauce. Rognons de veau (calf kidneys) have the finest texture and flavor. Chapon (capon). Tripes (tripe or stomach) have a honey-comblike appearance. Duck is considered dark or red meat. metaphorically. lemon. The game birds caille (quail). then rolled before cooking. Pale. oie (goose). the thymus gland and sometimes the pancreas). Beef and lamb offal further features in the East European and North African Jewish and Muslim cuisines that enrich French cooking. and it is served with the breast done slightly rare and pink. but butchers and supermarkets sell offal. frivolités).e. and coeur de boeuf (beef heart) are eaten. red-crested coq gaulois or Gallic cock that is the symbol of France is a Bresse fowl and has the AOC. it is a boiled dish that gives both soup and a main course from the meat. Turkey and goose are fare for the Christmas season. Most birds are raised on industrial chicken farms. Whole chickens are roasted to a golden brown. i. white-feathered. and pork liver is used in pâté. and a tender texture from slow braising. they are fricasseed or braised. Gras double is beef tripe that is cleaned. Cooked à la mode de Caen. Ris de veau (sweetbreads. delicate foie de veau (calf liver) is coated with a minimal dusting of flour. they are sold with head and feet intact. vinegar. animelles (testicles. The blue-footed. sometimes as brochettes (grilled on skewers). Poultry and Rabbit La volaille (poultry) is a versatile basic. . Livers are also grilled. faisan (pheasant). then served with a sauce having a strong acidic component from tomatoes. Poule-au-pot (“chicken in the pot”) is a favorite dish for a weekend meal.Major Foods and Ingredients 49 et tant friandes estoient que chacun en leichoit ses doigtz (“The tripe was so copious and so luscious. as it is large and firm. Like the beef pot-au-feu. also called. or lightly stewed or braised with a sauce such as tomato and red wine. or wine. then gently sautéed in butter. France exports more poulet (chicken) than any other country in the world. that everyone licked their fingers”).

Geese lack a gag reflex. The rendered fat prevents the meat from coming into contact with air. It pairs with jellies and with fortified or sweet wines. large sections from different livers that are lightly pressed together are less expensive. The resulting fat is stored primarily in their livers. More frequently they are cooked first. bécasse (woodcock). The association derives from the practice of keeping chickens and rabbits in proximity in a basse-cour (farmyard). but the wild animals are fair game for amateur hunters. and omelets. Lapin (rabbit) and lièvre (hare) are sold with poultry. Foie gras and Confit d’oie The Egyptians. which enlarge and develop the characteristic silky. It is eaten hot or cold. then sold jarred or canned. and it is used in cooking. Whole lobes are considered higher quality. Rabbit responds especially well to moist cooking such as a braise. vegetables. rabbit and hare are farmed. The tradition was long associated with Jewish communities in Metz and Strasbourg. Most foie gras now comes from several departments in the Southwest. French household manuals from as early as the sixteenth century give explicit instructions for fostering grand foie (“big liver”) in geese4 through gavage (force-feeding with grain). usually as an appetizer or first course. for confit d’oie or confit de canard (preserved goose or duck). Good foie gras is pink and firm and has a clean-looking shine. so they can swallow about a cup of grain at a time if it is gently funneled into their throats. as kosher dietary laws permitted eating fowl. which tend to dry out. and bécassine (snipe) are considered special treats. and Romans ate foie gras d’oie or fattened goose liver3. before refrigeration. are often sold already barded or wrapped with strips of bacon or salt pork that melt during cooking. both the meat prepared in this fashion and the flavors of the fats are much appreciated. The traditional combination of foie gras with truffles is considered the ultimate indulgence. Today. making confit was essential for storing the meat. Phoenicians. giving a distinctive unctuous feel on the tongue and a dark color. Some fresh livers are sold raw to be cooked at home.50 Food Culture in France perdrix (partridge). mixtures of foie gras and fats resemble pâtés. Goose fat lends outstanding flavor when used to pan-fry potatoes. Plump geese and ducks raised for foie gras can be cooked and then stored in their own fat. The small birds. At this point the foie gras requires no further cooking. ducks are given the same treatment as the geese. melting texture. Hot preparations of foie gras are in fact heated just enough to bring out the flavors and texture. Goose . Civet de lapin is rabbit stew flavored with red wine and thickened with the rabbit’s blood or with pig blood. Today.

poached. grated cheese. duck. Most interpretations involve a base of vegetables (onions. flat. ducks. the exact number is a matter of debate among cooks and members of one of the gastronomic confréries (brotherhoods or associations) that is devoted to cassoulet. Carcassonne. goose. poached eggs are garnished with a clear sauce such as a red wine reduction for oeufs en meurette. garlic. to which stock . and waste and toxins pollute fishing waters. and stuffed. and black pepper.5 As in many coastal countries. Creamy fish and seafood soups including bisques are popular in the Atlantic region. the hearty stew associated with the towns of Castelnaudary. Bouillabaisse is a Provenç al specialty from the Côte d’Azur. or lamb with haricots blancs (navy beans) is baked in a slow oven. by contrast. yolks are used in custards. industrial fishing has exhausted natural populations. short pastry filled with savory custard flavored with ham or smoked bacon. hard boiled. people order nearly as much fish as meat. The combination of pork rinds. nutmeg. round frittatas heavy with vegetables or potatoes are sliced into wedges like a cake for a summer meal. As in the United States. Hard boiled eggs are combined with vegetables and a sturdy sauce to make a main dish. Cultivated fish further lack the flavor and texture of their wild counterparts. Traditionally. they are not eaten at breakfast. baked.Major Foods and Ingredients 51 or duck fat flavors cassoulet. The same is true for France’s rivers. and Toulouse. tomatoes) and herbs. The international trade networks and the use of freezers make most kinds of fish and shellfish available year round. fried. In restaurants. EGGS Les oeufs (eggs) are made into innumerable dishes for lunch and dinner. Eggs are essential in baking cakes and pastries. an elegant entrée. Eggs appear as omelets and soufflés and in quiche Lorraine. every bouillabaisse cook claims an authentic and superior recipe. Eggs are scrambled. FISH Home cooks prepare poisson (fish) and fruits de mer (seafood) less frequently than they do meat because the cooking is perceived as difficult or delicate. the brown crust must be punched into the pot seven or eight times during baking. and quail. Farm fishing adds to the supply but stresses the environment. and whites are beaten up into meringues. In the South. softboiled. As with any great dish that is widely loved. which have supplied very little fish since the mid-twentieth century. although markets and farm stands sell eggs from geese. the term egg refers automatically to a chicken egg.

and pepper. never sold whole. olive oil is beaten into a mashed potato or some bread crumbs. carpe (carp). sprinkled with lemon juice and chopped parsley. baked. as well. delicate flakes and is best treated with the utmost simplicity. rouget or barbet (mullet). It is served with toast and aïoli. Quenelles are light-textured fish dumplings that are poached and sauced. merlan (whiting). Finefleshed truite (trout) appears in classic preparations such as au bleu. daurade (bream). Saffron gives color and flavor. thon (tuna). Saumon (salmon) has been overfished from the Loire River where it was once plentiful. moist flesh has long. Rouille is spread on toast or stirred by the spoonful directly into the soup. and merlu (hake). In a successful au bleu. or steamed. and spiny-scaled grondin (gurnard). lotte (monkfish) is. sometimes an egg yolk is added to make the sauce richer. Bourride is pale in color and enriched with cream. Oursinade is fish soup served with sea urchins and a creamy mixture of egg yolks and butter. fresh mayonnaise flavored with crushed garlic. imported Atlantic salmon is what is usually eaten. Saint-Pierre (John Dory). and shellfish. strongly flavored . Rascasse (Mediterranean rockfish. Trout cooked au bleu is poached in spiced. Bourride. Because of its famously hideous appearance. and. unless very large. as well as main dishes. It has flavorful.52 Food Culture in France or water is added. It is common to add a few fennel seeds and a shot of anise-flavored liquor such as pastis or some white wine. lacks tomatoes but contains mussels along with white fish such as cabillaud (cod) and lotte (monkfish). grilled. it is the only fish that is rolled and tied into roasts. frying and smoking feature in fish cookery. the fish dramatically curls and splits. meaty flesh and no bones. Fish cooked à la meunière is floured and pan fried. Fish soups are accompanied by a red-brown rouille (“rust”). For rouille. followed by several kinds of fish and shellfish. The silky. salt. dumplings. because of the unusual firmness of the flesh. and loaf-shaped terrines are based on fish that is ground to a smooth paste then mixed with seasonings. but rather poached. Savory mousses. scorpion fish) is the cornerstone. herbs. In the South. They have inspired numerous preparations. It is eaten in stews. brochet (pike). another fish soup. Fish with the best texture and flavor is not disguised in soup. exceptionally. are anguille (eel). ray) gives triangular ailes (wings). herbed cooking liquid acidulated with vinegar. Other fish added according to preference include loup de mer or bar (sea bass). The flatfish turbot (turbot) and sole (sole) are among the finest fish eaten. the sauce that takes its color from cayenne pepper. chilies or cayenne pepper. some with stuffings made of finely chopped vegetables. but always beheaded. Raie (skate. carrelet (plaice). Other fish that feature in soups and sauces. and drizzled with browned butter. then flavored with mashed fresh garlic. broiled.

While living on the Côte d’Azur. milk or cream. Harengs (herring) are no longer fished in French waters. Rollmops or herring fillets marinated in vinegar are served cold with boiled potatoes. Reddish. Stockfisch (dried salted cod) is soaked in water or milk to rehydrate it and reduce the salt. people use one of the half-shells as a spoon and scoop out the meat from the other mussels.Major Foods and Ingredients 53 Mediterranean sardines are fried or else arranged on grape leaves and vine twigs. the mashed salt cod is mixed with mashed potatoes or bread crumbs. Hareng bouffi is in fact a whole herring. then grilled. then baked. intact but still “stuffed” with spawn. Herring and maquereau (mackerel). are often lightly smoked. both oily fish. This delicacy is lightly salted. Crustaceans such as crevettes (shrimp) from the North Atlantic. or else slowly braised. an echinoderm having a porcupine-like exterior but yellow-orange lobes that are buttery in texture and sweetly briny. Coquilles SaintJacques and pétoncles (large and small scallops) are sold with the smooth orange roe sac attached to the white cylinder of flesh. then smoked. firm-fleshed poulpe (octopus) is cut into . To eat moules. although ostensibly of Belgian origin. Étrilles (small crabs) lend excellent flavor to soups. and crevettes grises (tiny North Sea prawns) are often paired with a creamy sauce. such as in creamy bisques. This becomes the sauce. The Mediterranean coast provides oursin (sea urchin). For brandade de morue. but supplies are purchased from elsewhere. Shell fish appear in soups and sauces and in stuffings for larger fish. and salt and pepper. The moules are steamed open in a broth lightly flavored with tomato. Pablo Picasso painted the picture Le Gobeur d’oursins (1946) showing a happy eater gobbling (gober) down this delicacy directly from the shell. SHELLFISH Mollusks such as briny. the fried potatoes are on the side. Accras (Caribbean fried codfish balls) have become a popular appetizer and are purchased freshly made from caterers. The Mediterranean cephalopods are popular quickly fried and served with slices of lemon. Calmars or encornets (squid) are also stuffed. Tourteaux (larger crabs) appear with smaller shellfish and with homard (lobster) on spectacular cold seafood platters. Larger than shrimp but smaller than lobster in size. silky huîtres (oysters) and palourdes (clams) are eaten raw on the half-shell and cooked. so that the fish absorb the flavor of the vines. langoustines (Dublin Bay prawns) and langoustes (crayfish) appear in cold and in hot preparations. moules-frites is a favorite bistro meal. then broiled or served as fillets with green salad. Moules (mussels) are always cooked. Scallops are quickly seared over high heat or baked in a sauce that is somewhat liquid.

Like fish. frog legs are served with slices of lemon for garnish. Today. which has a much older tradition of eating frog. Theoretically. Snails are most often prepared in the typical Burgundian fashion. FROGS The grenouilles (frogs) to which the French owe their nickname are indeed widely appreciated. associated with the cattle regions of Normandy and Brittany. pork fat) from their animals. they are imported frozen from Turkey. making a highly flavored sauce that can be sopped up with a piece of bread. SNAILS In France.54 Food Culture in France pieces for cold dressed salads or braising. Southerners used huile d’olive (olive oil) pressed from the fruit grown in their warmer territories. Northerners used graisse de boeuf (suet. as in other parts of Europe such as Italy. Special utensils are used: a rounded tongs to hold the shell steady. mounds dating to Roman times attest the long tradition of eating escargots (snails). so they do not roll. beef fat) and saindoux (lard. BUTTER AND OIL It used to be possible to distinguish northerners from southerners by the way they said “yes” (oui). They are best deep-fried or pan fried. the butter melts over the tiny beast. North was also distinguished from south by the fat used as a cooking medium. although the Catholic Church granted dispensations to areas where oil was rare and expensive. and a miniature fork with sharp tines to spear the snail.7 The best farmhouse butter. In the oven. For serving. while southerners spoke the langue d’oc. cuisses de grenouilles (frog legs) are flown in frozen from China. which are filled up with butter mashed with chopped herbs and garlic.6 The cuisses de grenouille have a silky. plates with round concavities stabilize the shells. Seiches (cuttlefish) are cooked whole. Northerners spoke the langue d’oï l or language of oï l. beurre (butter) and other animal fats were to be avoided on fast days. then replaced in the shells. They are cleaned. mollusks found on land. Fresh water lakes were the source for frogs during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. smooth texture and a slightly fishy flavor. when they were especially popular. has a deep yellow color and a richly developed .

de noisettes (hazelnut). Most milk sold is from cows. Milk that is flash-treated at 145 degrees C for UHT (ultra-haute température or ultra-high temperature) sterilization can then be stored at room temperature in sealed tetrapacks until opened. FRESH CHEESE. or cheese. as well. in the case of cheese. Butter is spread on bread for a plain tartine and for sandwiches with ham. and fruits—France’s local version of the Mediterranean diet. along with fat-soluble vitamins A and E. hard sausage. In liquid vegetable oils. Rarer huile de pépins de raisins (grapeseed oil). and peppery for the green oils. and de noix (walnut) feature in salads and dressings that show off their outstanding taste. France produces olive oil in the South and imports it from Spain. preserving milk over time. Olive oil varies in color from bright green to yellow and in flavor from lively. By today’s standards. The grades and labels for olive oil reflect the pressing (first or subsequent). olive oil connoisseurship is on the rise. Italy.Major Foods and Ingredients 55 flavor. Greece. It is used in cooking and is indispensable in pastry making. Huile de palme or de coprah (palm oil) and huile de soja (soy oil) are used in industrial contexts such as making packaged cookies and biscuits. Butter is associated with distinguished. and the nut oils are used in baking. Imported huile d’arachide (peanut oil) is neutral in flavor and has a high smoking point. CREAM. Olive oil is key to Provenç al cooking. referred to as la cuisine au beurre (butter cuisine). Fresh milk in France is pasteurized (heat treated at 75–85 degrees C for 15–30 seconds) or sterilized at even higher temperatures. the more healthful unsaturated fats predominate over saturated fat (associated with blood cholesterol increase). and Turkey. degree of acidity. yesterday’s generous use of butter is considered heavy-handed and old-fashioned. rich cooking. Hot milk is essential to the breakfast .6 kg annually and growing8. vegetables. Milk is drunk plain primarily by infants and children. Fats and oils carry fatty acids essential to growth and reproduction. Average consumption for olive oil is 1. and quality of flavor. however. while providing protein and. AND YOGURT Lait (milk) and laitages (dairy products) have always been much cheaper than meat. most goat and sheep milk goes into cheese. MILK. fruity. especially olive oil. to very mild. Mild-flavored huile de colza (canola or rapeseed oil) and huile de tournesol (sunflower oil) are domestically grown and the most widely used oils for everyday cooking and for making salad dressings and mayonnaise. so it is used for deepfrying and pan-frying over high heat. with its greater use of grains.

and sauces. sauces. Each person takes a small slice or triangle of the cheeses. Yaourt or yogourt (yogurt) originated near the Black Sea and the Caucasus. milk is added to soups. It is eaten at breakfast. Today. it is dessert. Fromage blanc is eaten as a sweet or a savory. is synonymous with France. like wine and bread. Fromage blanc is not technically cheese. The tiny round Crottin de Chavignol is named after the Loire village. Artisanal and farm-house products are usually bought in specialty shops and market cheese stands. or aged. Crème fraîche is slightly fermented. the curds are beaten to create a smooth texture. such as hard Cantal and blue-veined Roquefort. whether very young and moist. but crottin (a horse or sheep dropping) is an earthy. In cooking. and chicory coffee. It is the last savory course. but simply milk that has been curdled. Some types. to be eaten with bread and wine. It has numerous uses in cooking. were already attested in Roman Gaul. The flat-topped pyramid with a flower of blue mold on the outside is Pouligny-Saint-Pierre. is a chèvre.56 Food Culture in France drinks: café au lait (coffee with milk) and hot chocolate. or to replace the cheese course. Cheese Fromage (cheese). and some of the worst olfactory offenders are quite mild in flavor. Goat cheese in a small round disk is called Cabécou. Any goat milk cheese. made of sheep’s milk. Garnished with chopped chives. also chicory. A dollop garnishes desserts made with slightly acidic cooked fruits and cakes that are on the dry side. although other descriptors are used. purées of vegetables and potatoes. bought plain or sweetened in individually sized containers. for a snack. Cream is beaten into crème Chantilly (whipped cream) and added to soups. before the fruit or dessert. Aged cheeses develop heady odors. and baked gratins to give them smoothness and body. and firm. salt. Cheese was vital to store milk. eventually spreading through the Middle East and central Europe. a plate of two or three or more cheeses is passed around. the better it tastes. Sprinkled with sugar and served with fruit. To conclude a formal or festive meal. crumbly. it is the cheese course or the basis of a light lunch. Most names for cheese refer to the place of origin. People like to joke that the higher a cheese smells. humorous reference to its shape. Most yogurt is industrial. akin to sour cream. Factory produced cheeses are available in supermarkets. This is often true. the appreciation of cheese is so highly developed that cheese is eaten as a course all its own in a full meal. Yogurt has been widely eaten in France only since the 1960s. and pepper. .

such as potatoes au gratin and the onion soup famously served at Les . the square Carré de l’Est. which has a blue-gray layer of wood ash across the middle. Semisoft cow milk cheeses with white mold rinds are fromages à croûte fleurie. and colleagues in Saint-Haon-le-Châtel. and Roquefort. and Cantal.Major Foods and Ingredients 57 Master cheese maker and affineur (specialist in aging cheese) Hervé Mons with goat milk cheeses. and Munster. The family of hard cheeses that includes Gruyère de Comté and Emmental are aged from curds that have gone through an additional cooking process to make them firmer and dryer. These include Brie de Meaux. Bleu des Causses. Red mold cheeses with washed rinds include Époisses. Pont-l’Évêque. is 75 percent fat. creamy Savarin. Tomme de Savoie. which people eat with a sprinkling of caraway seeds. Mild. Pressed cheeses for slicing include sweet-pungent Morbier. and Saint-Marcellin. named for the food-writer and gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Grated hard cheese is sprinkled on dishes that are browned in the oven. its more recently invented relative Camembert. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. For the softer cheeses. Blue mold or blue veined cheeses include the Bleus d’Auvergne. which can be eaten quite dry. goats. but it must be trimmed off the firm cheeses. the rind is eaten. which becomes practically liquid when ripe and is eaten with a spoon.

using a wooden spoon. Since about 700 B. Burgundian Baked Cheese Puffs (Gougères) • 1 cup water • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter • pinch salt • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour • 4 large eggs • 2/3 cup plus an additional 1/3 cup grated Gruyère cheese Preheat the oven to 425° F. savory puffs called gougères often served as an appetizer. thanks in part to the addition of herbs and spices. or else use two tablespoons to drop the batter like cookies onto ungreased cookie sheets. and bring to the boiling point. Many herbs are native to Europe if not to French territory. AND CONDIMENTS FOR SAVORY COOKING Most any home cook draws judiciously on a selection of mild épices (spices) and herbes (herbs) to vary the texture. remove the pan from the heat. Grated cheese flavors the light. and continue to cook until the batter thickens. HERBS. As in many cuisines. but they are not spicy. Place the sheets in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. sel (salt) and poivre (pepper) are the most basic spices in French cooking. place the water.C. An herb is usually a leaf. and coheres into a ball. Spices are often–although not always–of exotic provenance. Beat in the eggs. Sprinkle the additional 1/3 cup of grated cheese on the puffs. and color of foods. Atlantic salt is harvested from the Île de Ré and the Guérande peninsula. . one at a time. leaves the side of the pan.. Use a pastry bag to squeeze the batter into rings. and salt in a saucepan. To make the pâte à choux (puff paste). Along with proverbs about bread and wine. proverbs about salt abound in France as elsewhere. salt has been harvested from Breton palus or paludes (marshes. and berries. flavor. Serve warm or prick the bottoms with a skewer or sharp-pointed knife to allow the steam to escape and cool on a wire rack.E. roots. making sure each egg is absorbed before adding the next one. butter. Mix in the 2/3 cup of grated cheese. Remove the pan once again from the heat. salt flats). and stir it into the liquid. Return the pan to low heat. until the gougères are golden brown and puffy. The traditional and regional dishes are richly flavored. SPICES. The term spice usually refers to dried bark.58 Food Culture in France Halles marketplace in Paris. When the butter has melted completely. Add the flour. buds.

made by the same process. White pepper is more common in the kitchen than on the eating table. This is used in light-colored dishes such as mashed potatoes and cream sauces. Saffron adds color to egg glazes for pastry and to butter used in fish and chicken dishes. cold cuts. Muscat (nutmeg) and macis (mace) are added to cooked vegetables and sweet egg dishes such as custards. from vin aigre. and omelets. Dishes labeled à la diable (deviled) are seasoned with mustard. Common refined fleur de sel (kitchen salt) is what most people keep on hand for cooking and for table use. Whole black peppercorns stud dried sausages. then blended with spices and vinegar to form a pungent mixture. Coarser sea salts still gray from the presence of marine minerals or flecked with seaweed add a decorative touch along with their special flavors to finished dishes. grainy. Smooth Dijon mustard is made from milder yellow seeds. Most vinaigre (vinegar. the dried stigmas and styles (female organs) from the Crocus sativus. Rustic. salt was vital to preserve meat. It flavors sauces. is sprinkled into fish soups and added to baked goods. Moutarde (mustard). Removing the external coating of black peppercorns leaves white pepper. and marinades. is also used. It imparts a yellow-orange color and a clean. In the Southwest. Bright red threads of safran (saffron). sweet summer fruits such as figs and pears are cooked with pepper. and it is made from hotter red-brown seeds. The seeds are crushed or ground. sour wine) is made from wine that is fermented so that the alcohol converts to acetic acid. Vinegar is a key condiment and cooking ingredient. pickles. like vinegar. . It serves as a cooking medium and to deglaze the pan for meat and fish sauces. especially any made with fish. Cider vinegar. and glazes and dressings for oven-bound dishes such as rabbit or chicken. It goes into sauces including vinaigrette (oil and vinegar dressing). sausages. cinnamon or dried ground ginger.Major Foods and Ingredients 59 and Mediterranean salt comes from Aigues-Mortes. and it is used this way in charcuterie. whose heat sets off the fruit. They balance rich elements such as butter or cream to make sauces for meats. or a sausage may be coated with a crunchy hot layer of cracked peppercorns. Quatre épices (four spices) is a standard combination of white pepper. salad dressings. nutmeg. Clou de girofle (clove) spices winter fruit compotes. Mustard is a condiment for boiled meats. and cloves that flavors pâtés and meat dishes. old-style mustard has in it brownish bits of hull as well as crushed seed. is ubiquitous in the kitchen and on the table. Historically. then pickled in brine to avoid discoloration. warm flavor. Green peppercorns are picked before they are ripe.

SHALLOTS. basilique (basil). Bouquet garni includes sprigs of parsley. thyme. Coriandre (coriander seed) is paired with meat. Sauge (sage) flavors pork and game. Curly-leaf parsley appears in the North. parsley is essential in cooking and as a raw garnish. this and a salad of braised leeks with vinaigrette dressing are . and it is added to southern sauces with a tomato base. The herbs are tied together. and olive oil. go into omelets. Anis (anise seed). sauces. and sometimes sarriette (savory) and romarin (rosemary). Minced échalottes (shallots) add zest to green salads. garlic is ubiquitous in the cooking of the South. and pots of vegetables to lend flavor in cooking. laurier (bay leaf). AND LEEKS The Allium genus is all-important for French cooking. and thyme is used in fish dishes. poaching liquids. and they are the principal ingredient in soupe à l’ognion (onion soup). It flavors roasts and chops as well as chicken destined for baking. Standard combinations of herbs flavor many dishes. Persillade is finely chopped parsley and either shallots or garlic added to a hot dish just before the cooking is done. By itself. Vichyssoise is leek and potato soup. Chopped sautéed oignons (onions) combine with carrot and celery as the basis for many dishes. GARLIC. then dropped into broths. marjolaine (marjoram). estragon (tarragon). and lavande (lavender). in pistou (pesto) for stirring into vegetable and bean soups. salt.60 Food Culture in France Carvi (caraway seed). Basil is the primary flavor. Fines herbes. salad dressings. the flat-leaf variety is typical in the South. and ciboulette (chives). composed of fresh minced persille (parsley). soft. Ail (garlic) is roasted. flavored with mashed. salted anchovies. savory. ONIONS. Herbes de Provence is a mixture of dried herbs that may include rosemary. A feuille de laurier (bay leaf) is added to marinades and to pots of beans and lentils. tarragon. thym (thyme). Cooking onions very slowly until they are sweet. Tarragon flavors lamb and chicken and goes into sauces. native to southern Europe. and caramelized makes confit or savory jam that accompanies meat dishes. associated with German and Scandinavian cooking. Along with tomatoes and olive oil. is used in pickling and is served with Munster cheese. along with crushed garlic. cerfeuil (chervil). and whole unpeeled gousses (garlic cloves) accompany chicken roasting in the oven. Poireaux (leeks) flavor soups and sometimes appear in a bouquet garni used for soup. is the principal flavoring for pastis and is used in fish dishes and southern pastries. it tops Provençal pissaladière (onion pizza). and genièvre (juniper berry) flavors game and pork. and herbed mayonnaise.

seafood. as an herb. and chickpeas. greens. Sweet couscous prepared . Couscous steams in the fragrant vapors coming up off a stew whose ingredients vary: lamb. pumpkin. onions.9 Today. fish. turnips. and Marseille. AND POTATOES Of Italian origin. but the shapes borrow from the Italian traditions. A typical Moroccan couscous combines lamb. coriander. GRAINS. and olive oil). Couscous. Later. cumin. Pasta and noodles are most often boiled and eaten as a side dish for meats. is added at table as a sauce. the most common preparations. and vegetables are all common components. RICE. Clermont-Ferrand. Morocco. most pâtes eaten in France are made within the country. an innovation from the Rhineland. and Algeria. pâtes (pasta) seem to have been made in France by northern Jews as early as the eleventh century and in Provence within the next 200 years. pasta were made using hard or durum wheat flour in Paris. crushed garlic. The exception is Alsatian nouilles (egg noodles). Spicy Tunisian harissa (a paste of red pepper. PASTA. Ciboulette (chive) is used both raw and cooked. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. has become a typical dish. more or less diluted with hot water or broth. Semolina flour (from hard wheat) and water make a paste that traditionally was rubbed between the hands into tiny balls.Major Foods and Ingredients 61 Braised leeks accompany poached fish. eaten in the former colonies of Tunisia. the stew is then served with the steamed pasta. carrots.

Seigle (rye) is used in bread-making and in a few sweet baked goods. cultivated in Brittany. melted Mix or pulse to blend together in a blender or food processor the flours and salt. Rice consumption has more than tripled since the 1970s. Shortgrained or Arborio rices are made into desserts such as gâteau de riz (rice cake) and puddings. and canned corn added to cold salads. Nice. tomato. the Lebanese salad with olive oil. such as spice breads.62 Food Culture in France with nuts. Épeautre (spelt) goes into Provenç al soups. and it has come back into fashion among bakers of organic and whole-grain breads. a powder ground from the grain. Cracked wheat. and now nearly all is imported. The word couscous refers both to the pasta and to the finished dish. Orge (barley). scallions. raisins. chopped parsley. New World maïs (corn) has been adopted in a very limited fashion. although cream of barley. is now little used in cooking. Many people have a couscoussier or couscous steamer in their home kitchens. and related preparations appear in Basque cooking. is made into tabbouleh. cider. used in making ale and then beer. lemon juice. thickens soups and boiled dishes. Dried industrial couscous is available. or bulgur. formerly part of the Italian Piedmont. water. cucumber. borrows the Italian tradition of making polente (polenta) out of cornmeal. and spices. Breton Buckwheat Crêpes (Galettes bretonnes or galettes de sarrasin) • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour • 1 cup all-purpose flour • pinch salt • 4 large eggs • 1 1/4 cups apple cider • 1 1/4 cups milk • 1/4 cup water • 1/4 cup unsalted butter. More interestingly. and melted butter to make a . is the key ingredient for the dark crêpes associated with that region. as corn is still thought of primarily as animal fodder. milk. and flavorings such as rosewater is a festive dessert. Long-grained rice is used in cold salads and in side dishes for meat. and people do steam it alone (without making the stew) to eat as they would pasta of Italian origin. Add eggs. Corn is eaten as flakes in cereal. Blé noir or sarrasin (buckwheat). Riz (rice) was cultivated in the wet Camargue region from the seventeenth century through the mid-twentieth century.

Pommes frites (French fries or fried potatoes) are popular. with a filling or plain. sautéed. until the crêpe is brown on the bottom and at the edges and set firm in the middle. Most potatoes presently cultivated and eaten in France are the BF 15. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. then pour in batter to thinly coat the pan (about 1/3 cup of batter for a 12-inch pan). pan-fried. Cook about a minute. 63 When exotic New World pommes de terre (“earth apples. but always removed before cooking or just before serving. No matter what the preparation. Now it is difficult to imagine French cooking without them. the peel is not eaten. and added to stews and soups. covered.. Potatoes are sliced and baked. Brush lightly with butter.Major Foods and Ingredients thin batter. they were viewed with great suspicion. Briefly blend or mix the batter once more. Boiled or steamed potatoes are eaten in salads or tossed with butter. Purée de pommes de terre (mashed potatoes) is served as a side dish Peeling potatoes for cooking.” i. Serve hot. Makes about 15 crêpes. Heat a crêpe pan or large flat saucepan until very hot. Swirl the pan to spread the batter over the bottom of the pan and up its sides (if using a crêpe pan). Turn the crêpe out flat onto a plate or board. or refrigerate overnight.e. Let the batter stand for one hour. . potatoes) were first introduced. Fold it in quarters or turn in the edges to make a square. Bintje. and Ratte varieties.

Eaten in combination with grain. and lingots (dried white beans) combine with meat in rich stews such as garbure and cassoulet and marry well with cream and tomatoes. larger. Tiny. Chickpeas go into couscous and salads. firm. flatter. sliced. Lentils and split peas are often combined with pork. Haricots blancs. pulses usually accompany meat or fish as a separate course or side dish. Pois chiches (chickpeas) and fèves (fava beans) were particularly important in the southern regions. where they are usually bought frozen and already peeled. or dried in powder for purée. whose flavorful juices they absorb. Fresh green and white beans at the Place des Halles market in Dijon. Potatoes are a mainstay of student cafeterias and other industrial restaurants. PULSES In the past. prepared for cooking. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. . Today. pale green and yellow varieties go into soups and purées. peas and beans provide complete proteins that contribute to a healthy diet with little meat or none at all. cocos. sausages. légumes à gousses (pulses) were staples.64 Food Culture in France and may be further elaborated into fried croquettes (puffs). Pulses are the edible seeds of pod-bearing plants cultivated for food. or bacon for flavor. Dried green beans called haricots verts and chevriers go with lamb. green Puys lentils are used in salads and served with salmon.

Among the root vegetables. which may be a plain tossed lettuce mixture. pine nuts. and served with slices of salty dry ham. braised in milk. or puréed. forbidding-looking céleri-rave (celery root or celeriac) is appreciated for its warm celery flavor and versatility. rhizomes. Small red and white radis (radishes) are dipped in salt and eaten raw along with bread and butter. The giant. The French are masters of the salad. They feature in sturdy winter soups and stews to which navets (turnips) are usually added. Raw celery root is grated. mashed. individually dressed mounds on the plate of crudités. Greens such as sour oseille (sorrel) and spicy dark green cresson (watercress) add color and flavor to soups and sauces. Curly-leafed chou de Savoie or chou frisé (Savoy cabbage) is stuffed. as well. Once it is scrubbed under running water. and the vegetable is then cut into chunks. dressed with mustard vinaigrette or with cream. Horseradish also garnishes boiled meat dishes like pot-au-feu. Steamed. associated with Alsatian cooking. or meat juice from whatever it will accompany. and even fruits such as the tomate (tomato). added to soups and stews. tender. Vegetables are eaten in savory preparations as side dishes and as individual courses of a main meal. sometimes garnished with morsels of hot lard. and raisins as in other areas of the Mediterranean. except when grated and dressed as part of a platter of crudités (composed salad of raw vegetables—a colorful mosaic). or a salade composée “composed” from whatever is at hand and attractively arranged on a flat plate. In the sweet version of tourte aux blettes (chard tart). carottes (carrots) are eaten cooked. cooked pulses such as lentils tossed with vinaigrette and some sliced onion.Major Foods and Ingredients 65 VEGETABLES The term légume (vegetable) as used in everyday speech covers several botanical groups: roots. The composed salads often include cooked vegetables and pieces of cheese or meat. the outer rind is trimmed. which is often cooked with olive oil. and they are prominent in soups and stews. from . Grated betteraves (beets) also appear served in discrete. such as braised with lettuce and peas. and braised. young leaves appear in salads. as well. rather than raw. Épinards (spinach) are usually served cooked. The bulbous. flowers. Provence’s characteristic vegetable is chard. and made into a purée or soup. sorrel lends its lemony tang to eggs and fish. carrots form a vegetable course. Chou (white cabbage) is eaten salted or pickled as choucroute (sauerkraut). although very small. Narrowly sliced into a chiffonnade (ribbons). leaves. They also appear in some cooked dishes. tempestuous raifort (horseradish) is grated and tempered with crème fraîche or unsweetened whipped cream as a garnish for smoked fish. hairy. cream. Salsify or oyster plant (salsifis) is cooked with butter.

and sliced. string beans. The sweet hearts are braised in water. or French beans) are a favorite vegetable across the country. Céleri (celery) is blanched. alongside boiled meats. pale yellow endives (Belgian endive). then dressed with a rich sauce such as hollandaise (based on butter and egg yolks) or served à la bagna cauda. mâche (corn salad or lamb’s lettuce). braised. then served with butter alongside roasted or grilled meat. larger ones are cooked whole then served with a vinaigrette or melted butter and lemon as a sauce for dipping the leaves. Raw endive leaves add a silky crunch to salad. or in a blanc or white cooking liquid consisting of boiling water and a bit of flour. It is dressed with olive oil and lemon in a salade grècque (Greek salad) with tomatoes or else sauced with cream and chives or mint. and olive oil. For plain green salad. composed salads appear now on restaurant menus as first courses or on full-sized plates as a main dish. and it is an ingredient in some tomato sauces. or green leaf lettuce is tossed with oil-and-vinegar dressing that may be emulsified with mustard or flavored with a sliver of garlic or a spoonful of minced shallot. Classic simple preparations flavor the peas with a small quantity of sugar. seeded. however. Tiny artichauts (artichokes) are eaten raw with salt. Bibb-type lettuce. Fleshy fenouil (fennel bulb) is sliced raw to eat with lemon or with a full-fledged dressing for a salad. A head of lettuce is often referred to simply as une salade (a salad). It is also braised or blanched to be eaten cooked. and a dash of Parmesan cheese make a custard that balances the flavor and texture of the vegetable. with the Provenç al dressing of olive oil. as in combination with peas. Fennel stalks and leaves are . and anchovy. Green salads are served after the main dish in a full meal. Haricots verts (fresh green beans. eggs. minced garlic. Most often the whole vegetable is steamed or blanched and served hot under a béchamel sauce with ham. or cornette (chicory or curly endive).66 Food Culture in France Nice. and served with tomato sauce or meat marrow. it is most often eaten raw. Classical cooking gives methods for cooking concombre (cucumber). Stalky cardes (cardoons) are cooked like artichoke hearts. Romaine. Other popular salad greens include scarole. grated apple. They are boiled in salted water. escarole. then add mint and butter or lettuce and cream. They combine with other vegetables in composed salads and appear in soups and purées. France is the biggest producer in the world of compact. lemon. powdered sugar. Petits-pois (fresh green peas) came into fashion in the seventeenth century and have remained popular ever since. and peppery roquette (rocket or arugula). lemon juice. A few classic preparations call for cooked or braised lettuce. when their cool crunch refreshes the palate. Fresh laitues (lettuces) mean green salad to most people.

or with vinaigrette dressing. but it has a mild flavor. Eggplant is roasted then diced into cold salads. Zucchini traveled from Italy into France. cucumbers. It is usually converted to purée or made into a cream soup. The vegetable is thick. or breadcrumbs. All four are eaten stuffed with meat. Asparagus are steamed or boiled. None are native. White asperge (asparagus). rice. the florettes are fried. is preferred over green. and courgette (zucchini) are workhorses in the French kitchen. poivron (bell pepper). Zucchini puréed with cream and butter is a side dish that is much appreciated in the summer. Chou-fleur d’Italie or broccoli (broccoli) made its way to France from Italy and is still somewhat less common than cauliflower. sometimes woody toward the bottom. Indian eggplant was introduced to Spain during the Middle Ages by the Moors and from there made its way to Italy and France. dry Mediterranean climate of the South. most often it is par-boiled then baked au gratin with milk or cream and grated cheese. placed under fish that is grilling to give it flavor. tomate (tomato). grown under mounds to avoid exposure to light. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier.Major Foods and Ingredients 67 Everyday vegetables in inviting profusion: lettuce. and cauliflower at market. carrots. often served with a creamy or eggy sauce such as hollandaise. but all flourish in the warm. Cooked chou-fleur (cauliflower) appears boiled or steamed in composed salads. and usually requires peeling. Tomato halves sprinkled . Peppers and tomatoes are New World plants that were brought back to Europe in the late Renaissance. The aubergine (eggplant).

stir gently to mix. Cook until the eggplant is soft. baked in the oven. cold.68 Food Culture in France with herbs and bread crumbs and then baked to concentrate the flavors accompany meat. leaves stripped from the stems • 6 tablespoons chopped parsley • 8 tablespoons chopped basil • salt • ground black pepper Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Summer Vegetable Stew (Ratatouille) • 7 tablespoons olive oil • 1 pound zucchini and/or yellow crookneck squash. light-colored. Add to the bowl with the other vegetables. sliced into rounds • 2 green or red peppers. or at room temperature. but not mushy. Using a slotted spoon. sautéed in butter. halved and seeded • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic • 6 sprigs thyme. Add 3 tablespoons of oil to heat in the skillet. Stir to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the pan. watching carefully to prevent them from browning much. Pour the last tablespoon of olive oil into the pan. and smooth in texture (about 8 or 9 minutes). membranes removed. Serve hot. as in the summer stew ratatouille. The vegetables should be cooked through and tender. The quartet of vegetables is particularly associated with southern cooking. and sauté the onion and garlic about 3 minutes. transfer to a large bowl. Strips of roasted. then put in the eggplant. thyme and half the parsley. and sliced • 1 eggplant (about 1 pound). Take the pan off the heat. cut into 1-inch cubes • 2 pounds tomatoes. then sauté the sliced peppers for 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. Occasionally it is co-opted for service in egg desserts such as pumpkin flan or pumpkin crème brûlée. Citrouille or potiron (pumpkin) is made into soups. Simmer for 10 minutes. and cook for 10 more minutes. Stir in the rest of the parsley and the basil. Add the tomatoes. . and transfer to the bowl. and used in couscous. peeled peppers are made into cold salads. seeded. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté the zucchini about 6 minutes until lightly browned. Return all the vegetables in the bowl back into the pan with the tomatoes.

usually underneath oak trees from which they derive carbonic nutrients and to which they give back mineral salts and other elements. Truffles are especially associated with the Périgord. Although they look like dark chunks of coal or earth. and cream sauces for pasta. They are cooked into compotes and used to stuff pastries . Generous quantities of truffles feature in the old aristocratic cuisine and in contemporary elite restaurant cooking. In the past. dark. shavings of black truffle are added to excellent effect to omelets. Bits of truffle steeped in high-quality oils impart their perfume to salads. mineral flavor and a natural sweetness. Other varieties are gathered wild. golden chanterelles or girolles (chanterelles) do appear in markets. pâtés. they are quite expensive and fetch high prices on the market. Eggs delicately scrambled over very low heat with black truffle is a typical treatment. France is now the world’s third-largest producer of cultivated mushrooms. but mushrooms must be gathered under the supervision of an experienced person who can distinguish edible ones from poisonous varieties that look similar. Mushrooming is popular in the countryside. and put into soups. For modest budgets. although the four-legged assistants must be prevented from eating their finds. braised. Truffle hunters develop an eye for locating patches in forested areas and are notoriously secretive about this information. Truffles are so hard to spot that people train pigs and dogs to sniff them out. they have a rich. grilled. of the type called champignons de Paris or champignons blonds for their pale. fried. FRUITS Fresh fruits are eaten out of hand for a snack and as a sweet course at the end of a meal. truffes (truffles) grow wild in forested areas. and they are often cooked in combination with cream and chicken. creamy color. they were also cultivated in caves and abandoned underground stone quarries. Chicken roasted with slices of black truffle tucked under the skin is called demi-deuil (half-mourning) because of the dark appearance the truffles give the bird.Major Foods and Ingredients 69 MUSHROOMS The fungi known as champignons (mushrooms) grow naturally in wooded areas or meadows. baked. long-stemmed. Mushrooms are sautéed. where the best ones grow. Netted black morilles (morels) and dense. Truffles All but impossible to cultivate. Truffles are so highly prized that they are called diamants noirs (black diamonds). At best.

The berries— fraises (strawberries). Tarte Tatin or upside-down apple tart appears on restaurant dessert menus and is baked at home to end a festive dinner. In the industrial context they are squeezed for juice and puréed or reduced to syrups used to sweeten and flavor yogurt. Soft-fleshed. and form sauces that accompany pork or game. jellies. Imported bananes are widely available in shops and nearly always eaten raw. and ice creams. They are eaten raw in the late summer when they ripen.70 Food Culture in France and fill tarts. After baking. to be eaten with a . Green and black figues (figs) and grenades (pomegranates) with their ruby flesh have been cultivated for centuries in Provence. These fruits rouges (“red fruits” or berries) also garnish tarts and cakes. flavor yogurt. Apples are sliced into large pieces or quartered. poached. pêches (peaches). Other fruits exotiques (“exotic” or tropical fruits) imported for sale in markets include mangoes and star-fruit. Prunes d’Ente and fat. Rhubarbe (rhubarb). pitted drupes such as nectarines (nectarines) and meltingly sweet brugnons (white nectarines). Cooked. is treated like the firm fruits. Raisins (grapes) are a late summer dessert. they are usually served halved. but most apples are transformed by cooking into pastries and desserts. or cerises (cherries) are placed whole in bowls on the table after a meal in summer for dessert. Its long. available in the fall. jewel-like groseilles (red currants) with the fingers. In recent years the New Zealand kiwi has become extremely popular and is now widely cultivated in France. the tart is turned upside-down to reveal the caramelized apples. Hard. otherwise the crust becomes soggy underneath the apples. Their juicy orange flesh is intensely sweet and flavorful. Sweet apples such as the Golden Delicious are eaten out of hand. ices. then pull the fruit right off the stem with their teeth. Pommes (apples) are the most popular fruit and account for approximately one-quarter of all fruit eaten. sour coings (quinces). cooked in syrup. and pâte de coing (quince paste). The most popular melons are the small green-skinned varieties known as Chantal. then arranged in a pan with a single layer of short crust on top. framboises (raspberries). fleshy. preserves. which is enjoyed as a Christmas sweet. these fruits stuff pastries and top cakes. or baked in wine. caramelized by sautéing in sugar and butter. are cooked into compote. and made into tarts and pastries. abricots (apricots). Cavaillon. and figs also appear in jams. The trick is to eat the dessert straight out of the oven. and Charentais. myrtilles (blueberries)—are eaten fresh served in small bowls. ice cream. a member of the knotgrass family. purple-black pruneaux d’Agen (prunes) are a specialty of the Lot-et-Garonne region in the Southwest. and people take up sprays of delicate. Poires (pears) are eaten raw. and on flat cakes. Prunes (plums) came west to France with Crusaders returning from Syria. and candy. red. astringent stems are sliced.

however. such as apples. they are used in salads and soups. they are sometimes served peeled and sliced as a light first course. A gelée (jelly) is a fine-textured. and cédrats (citrons) are candied for use in baking and confectionary. then boil it down the next morning. quinces. in cooking they have a special affinity for fish. Containers of jewel-like preserves were often exchanged as gifts. It is prepared from fresh or dried fruits.Major Foods and Ingredients 71 spoon for a summer entrée. prunes. the more you spread it around). Sweet-acid currant jelly is a traditional accompaniment to hot preparations of foie gras. chicken. Most jam is industrial. or both. Rowanberry and elderberry jellies and gooseberry jam are served with game to temper the headier flavors of the meat. apricot. Citrons verts (limes) are used in mixing drinks. NUTS Dried Isère noix (walnuts. and raisins. Sweet amandes (almonds) are in fact pit fruits related to . making preserves ensured that one could eat fruits in some form during the cold winter months. and plum are popular flavors to spread on bread for a tartine. JAMS. with salads. AND COMPOTES La confiture. Pamplemousses (grapefruit) are usually pressed into juice. Citrons (lemons) are used in both savory and sweet preparations. strained apricot preserves. frequently in combination with shrimp and crabs. the word also refers to nuts in general) are used in baking and confectionary and in savory cooking to garnish salads and hot dishes. The lovely sheen on strawberry tarts and other pastries in bakery windows is usually due to an apricot glaze. Before modern refrigeration and freezing. Oranges (oranges) are the most common of the thickskinned citrus fruits. Preserves have many uses in baking. figs. plus on l’étale (Jam is like intelligence: the less you have. They pair with poultry and meat. Compote is a simple dessert of fruits stewed in syrup or wine. clear preserve from which all berry seeds or chunks of fruit have been strained off. and with blue cheeses. JELLIES. but during the summer people macerate fruit in sugar overnight. abricoter (“to apricot”) means to glaze a cake or tart with a coating of boiled. and they are served as dessert (instead of fruits) during the winter months. Jam is ubiquitous on breakfast tables: strawberry. Pastèque (watermelon) is popular during the summer in the South. Avocats (avocadoes) are technically fruits. say the French. and veal. est comme l’intelligence: moins on en a. raspberry. jellies are also made from decoctions of lavender or from wine.

Contemporary bonbons. Sugar is essential to chocolatiers or chocolate makers. Although most nuts are eaten dried. they accompany an apéritif. Châtaignes (chestnuts) are ground into flour that is used to make bread and cakes. SUGAR. Berlingots and bêtises de Cambrai are both bonbons with a glasslike appearance typical for flavored. preserves. Despite the prevalence of industrial candies. sugar is widely used in the food industry as an additive to fruit juices. Tiny green pistaches (pistachios) are used like hazelnuts. fresh hazelnuts and almonds appear seasonally in markets. then strewn on salads and used as garnishes. still-green shells are carved open with a sharp knife. Chocolate is widely consumed in France. Fresh nutmeats are pale white. worldwide it is second. The petits-fours or very small cakes known as calissons d’Aix are made of sweetened melon paste and egg white. As in the United States. are nonetheless exquisite. perhaps into naturalistic forms such as roses and leaves. the pithy. with a crisp texture. . AND SWEETS Sucre (sugar) was long a luxury consumed by the affluent and considered a spice rather than a cooking staple or a food. although in smaller quantities than in other European countries. and small. Noisettes (hazelnuts or filberts) garnish meat concoctions such as pâtés and are added to hard sausages. Whole chestnuts go into stuffing for turkey and combine with cabbbage to make hearty winter braised dishes. Hard sugar candy is shaped in molds or else blown like glass from heavy syrup. hard sugar candies.72 Food Culture in France peaches. a milky moistness. pastries. HONEY. then carved into the typical almond shape. if more modest. colored. biscuits. Today. France leads the European Union in the production of sugar from sugar beets. Pignons (pine nuts) are lightly toasted in a pan. Most chocolate is eaten in the form of the industrial milk chocolate bars available in every supermarket and grocery store. and yogurt. Candied in sugar syrup. decorative boxes of hand-made candies such as chewy nougats (made with egg white) or nut pralines (in a crunchy sugar coating) are often given as gifts. working with sugar is an art in itself. When fresh. in cooking they are often paired with trout. Few confectioners today make the elaborate sugar sculptures that featured on aristocratic tables in the past. CHOCOLATE. with meats and in confectionary. they are called marrons glacés and are used in sweet preparations such as chestnut cream. the tradition of artisanal confectionary is quite strong in France. breakfast cereals. Salted and left in their shells. The paste is glossed with hard white sugar icing. and a sweet flavor.

buttery croissants are eaten at breakfast along with a bowl of coffee or hot chocolate. and it is a traditional ingredient in ginger cakes. Metz. Honey from meadow flowers and crop fields is the most common. raisin-filled spirals. Artisanal chocolate makers produce bonbons stuffed with fruits or creams. Honey gives pain d’épices (spice cake) from Dijon its characteristic flavor and dark color. according to the inspiration of the confectioner. and of higher quality than the overly sweetened and less saturated mixtures. a Lyon specialty is the cocoa-dusted hérisson or hedgehog. Chocolats come in imaginative shapes. so-called for its spiky appearance. pine honey. These range from simple. which are croissants filled with chocolate. and the Vosges. As in the United States. are a favorite with children. orange flower honey. home cooks craft a simple chocolate or pound cake. Lavender honey. For a special occasion such as a weekend dinner or a birthday celebration. viewed as more natural. connoisseurs seek out dark chocolate with a significant cocoa content (at least 50 percent). better tasting. brioche. the whole garnished with . to complex confections made only by pâtissiers. Viennoiseries or fine pastries such as chaussons de pomme or baked apple turnovers. flavored with liquors or spices. Residents of rural areas and also many suburban dwellers keep a hive in the garden and collect their own honey. desserts such as oeufs à la neige or île flottante (eggs in snow or floating island: egg whites poached in milk and served on crème anglaise or thin custard. During the late Middle Ages. distinctive flavors.Major Foods and Ingredients 73 In recent years. At breakfast honey is eaten like jam—spread on buttered bread or spooned over plain yogurt for flavor and sweetness. and flaky. Apiculture or the cultivation of bees for honey is a common hobby that recalls the rural agricultural life of the recent past. a box of elegant chocolates may be passed around the table as a last morsel to follow coffee. fermented honey drinks were made in Lorraine. the result of promotional efforts on the part of chocolate manufacturers. and bees were also important as a source of wax to make the votive candles lit in churches. Miel (honey) has been a familiar if not widely used sweetener since Celtic and Roman times. and thyme honey are harvested in the South and have delicate. homemade preparations. mixed with nuts. After a festive meal. Pains au chocolat. PASTRIES AND DESSERTS One of the many seductions of France is the large range of imaginative desserts and pâtisseries (pastries). a basic layer cake with fruits. it has become fashionable for cafés to serve a small square of chocolate with their coffees. the pastry professionals.

fruit purée as sauce. and the whole is iced with chocolate. a frothy egg cream whisked over a double boiler and flavored with sweet wine such as Muscat). To make an Opéra. Served in a large. or eggs are appreciated as light. herbs. people buy cones at street stands and ice cream shops. It contains little cream. or a fruit tart. and raspberry. rosemary. ICE CREAM AND SORBET Ices and ice creams can be traced to ancient China and were eaten at the court of Alexander the Great and by the Emperor Nero during the first century. which soaks up the flavors and colors of the spreads. A coupe is an oversized concoction garnished with fruits. such as lavender. sabayon (zabaglione.” i.74 Food Culture in France caramel). A Paris-Brest. During the seventeenth century. During the summer. In formal settings. . or produce. mousse au chocolat (chocolate mousse). mango and passion fruit. These cakes are finished with a fruit glaze or jelly to give the outside a transparently colorful liquid sheen. a thin biscuit is soaked in coffee syrup. and nut creams on a light sponge cake.. is not terribly sweet. bowl-shaped glass coupe (goblet). a cake or tart will be bought from a pâtissier. In the South. Small puff pastry balls filled with cream. layers puff pastry with almond and hazelnut cream. it is usually meant to be shared by two people. For an elaborate dinner. nuts. and a crisp cookie. being closer to an Italian gelato. and is slightly granular in texture. and pistachio are common. butter cream and chocolate cream are spread on alternate layers. recognizable from the powdered sugar and almonds that decorate the top. A bombe is ice cream molded into a round shape. milk. thinly sliced fruit. cooling. and restaurants feature coupes de glace and bombes on the menu for dessert. arranged in a circle. are summer flavors. Professionally made tarts lined with pastry cream or almond cream and topped with fruits are perennial favorites. French glace (“ice. Sorbets and granités or true ices made without any cream. ice cream) differs from American ice cream. then similarly garnished with sauces and fruits. The family of frothy cakes that includes the Roussillon and the Framboisine are made from layers of gelées. which is sweet-sour. and refreshing desserts. a tiny quantity of sorbet is served between courses of a meal.e. to refresh the palate. ices made their way to France via Italy. strawberry. and garnished with flavored whipped cream or custard sauce make a SaintHonoré. and honey. hazelnut. flavors are based on local fruits. but far more elaborate classic confections are widely available in the pastry shops. Vanilla and chocolate are favorite flavors. invented in 1954 in Paris in honor of the Palais Garnier opera house.

The use of eau de fleur d’oranger (orange flower water) and eau de rose (rose water) in pastry-making in the South reflects a Middle Eastern influence that came via Spain with the Moors. less frequently hot water. Chocolat or hot chocolate is a popular beverage among children. ground roots are sold in powders or granules that resemble instant coffee and may be dissolved in hot milk. This is due in part to health concerns. COFFEE. A cup of tea contains far less caffeine than a cup of coffee. hot milk with strong coffee. domestically produced substitute for coffee.Major Foods and Ingredients 75 HERBS AND FLOWERS USED AS SWEET FLAVORINGS Some herb. violette (violet) flavors candy and black tea. is drunk at breakfast. as well. and tea may offer other health benefits. Chicory is naturally nutty and sweet in flavor and lacks the bitterness and caffeine of coffee. most blossoms used in perfumes and flavorings are imported from India and Asia. The result is a strong. and flower flavors are primarily associated with sweet dishes. TISANES. In recent years. Dark roasted Robusta or Arabica beans are used. taken in the past as medicine. Orange flower is the distinctive flavor in the sweet version of the yeasted pastries called fougaces. . in demitasse cups. coffee refreshes the palette. light afternoon refreshment. Mint is used primarily for tisane and as a flavor for syrups drunk over ice. Vanille (vanilla) is a staple of bakers. sipped after the varied flavors of a meal. AND HOT CHOCOLATE Nearly everybody drinks café (coffee). Children may also be given bowls of chicorée (chicory). connoisseurs appreciate the delicate variety of flavors. TEA. Coffee drunk at mid-morning or in the late afternoon is a pick-me-up. Café au lait. similar to Italian espresso. its roasted. Green sweet-sour angelica stems. This is simply called un café (a coffee) or a petit noir. spice. and the coffee is brewed with relatively little water. brewed black and green teas were associated with elegant. and whole violet flowers candied in sugar garnish cakes and pastries. Until the midtwentieth century. In the past. France is the third largest purchaser of coffee beans in the world. Throughout the day and after lunch and dinner. rich-tasting beverage. after the United States and Germany. tea has gained popularity as a breakfast drink. Chicory is a green related to endive. the perfume industry centered in Grasse also supplied cooks. people drink small cups of black coffee. today. are candied by repeated dipping into sugar syrup and then carved into attractive shapes. which used to be drunk as an inexpensive. It is drunk at breakfast from the same kind of bowls that adults use for café au lait.

During meals. easily spotted in its squat. Natural or added carbonation is responsible for the bubbles in sparkling mineral waters. Still waters from springs at Evian. guimauve (mallow). SODA AND SYRUPS Soda is everywhere available. WATER Spring waters are heavily marketed. and they are often ordered in cafés. Beloved by children and popular with people of all ages during the summer. but as a refreshing beverage for the late afternoon. and other imported beverages are easy to find. tap water is the most commonly drunk liquid in France10 and may safely be consumed throughout the country. Fanta. Volvic. a pitcher or carafe of tap water or a bottle of spring water is placed on the table. and sodium are other common mineral elements in spring waters.11 General preference runs to drinking water that is cool or room temperature. particularly in the South. Infusions are taken before bed or as an after-dinner hot drink instead of coffee. heavily concentrated syrup with a distinctive fruit or herbal flavor is mixed with water to make a refreshing drink. More typical than soda are sirops (syrups). so that glasses may conveniently be refilled. Waters with high mineral contents are appreciated for their healthful properties. orange-shaped bottle. such as calcium for bone health. still have public fountains that antedate the installation in homes of filtered running water. Contrex. although it is not consumed on the same scale as in the United States. giving the false impression (shared by many of the French) that tap water is never drunk. Some small towns. potassium. sweet. such as Badoit and Perrier. although sometimes it is based on almonds. Liter-sized bottles of water are available at grocery stores and corner stores. The flavors of spring waters vary according to their mineral content (or the lack thereof) indicated on the bottle label. They are given to the sick. The most distinctive is Orangina. Grenadine (pomegranate) and cassis (black currant) are well-loved flavors. and Vatel are popular. A small quantity of thick. . not cold or iced. In fact. along with a few French sodas. une menthe à l’eau— green mint syrup and water—is cooling in hot weather. Coke. despite its name. and the various decoctions are appreciated for their medicinal properties.76 Food Culture in France A tisane or infusion is a made from a dried flower or herb such as verveine (verbena). Fluorine. Orgeat is barley syrup. Sodas and syrups are not drunk with meals. or menthe (mint) steeped in hot water.

Cider is consumed on a much smaller scale than wine or beer. BRANDIES AND LIQUEURS Eaux-de-vie (fortified alcohols or distilled liqueurs) are drunk as apéritifs and digestifs (before. making true bière (beer).and after-dinner drinks) and have many uses in cooking. and beer consumption is heaviest in this region and along the Belgian border. Most is drunk near where it is made. and the government banned the sale of absinthe . Since the sixteenth century. The problem was that it contained wormwood (Artemesia absinthium). and the Maine. and desserts and are f lambéed for a dramatic presentation. Cidre (cider) in France is what Americans call hard cider. the bubbly fermented apple juice that is mildly alcoholic (4. Absinthe is quite bitter and has to be sweetened with a cube of sugar. a shot of grenadine syrup is added. For centuries. Pernod and other anise liqueurs became popular in the nineteenth century. there it rivals wine in importance. germinated barley that has been fermented with yeast and water.5 percent alcohol by volume). Excessive consumption and bad quality mixtures produced unfortunate effects. Pastis. people had begun to add medicinal hop blossoms to ale. apples and cider have been typical of Normandy. a handful of industrial breweries in Alsace. or toasted. Ale is malt. Today. Most distilled liqueurs were originally concocted as medicines. in the countryside of the Northwest. when new varieties of apples and cultivation techniques were brought from Spain. Brittany. beer was an important source of food calories for northern Europeans. By the end of the eighth century. when they were marketed as a substitute for absinthe (absinthe). not to mention for its magical transformative powers. beer is an ingredient in the beef stew carbonade and in some fish stews. Liqueurs have been manufactured in France since the distilling process was brought back from the Middle East during the Crusades. They flavor sauces. also flavored with anise and fennel. an ancient tonic that is also potentially toxic.Major Foods and Ingredients 77 BEER AND CIDER Cervoise (ale) antedates wine in France and can be traced back to the Gauls. The hops give the characteristic bitter flavor and act as a natural preservative. such as Kronenbourg and Météor. In cooking. For a bubbly red Monaco. stewed dishes. La fée verte (the green fairy) was so called for the milky green color it assumes when mixed with water. A panaché is a summer drink made of beer mixed with lemonade. produce most of the French beers. By far the most popular liqueur is anise-flavored pastis.

classic Cognac is the most famous grape brandy. Most of the herbal liqueurs have monastic origins. “L’Âme du vin. not the American mixed drink. . people still concoct their own brandies by soaking fruits such as pears or plums in a neutrally flavored alcohol. pastis and other anise mixtures were available. 1808).” and “Le vin des amants. A shot of Calvados is sometimes drunk between courses during a meal. Among after-dinner drinks. to promote digestion and help eaters make their way through a particularly rich repast. NOTES 1.” “Le vin du solitaire. Conveniently. It is drunk mixed with chilled water. Mixed with mint syrup. Le Manuel des Amphitryons (Paris: Cappelle et Renand. before dinner. 14. barley. or fruit. l’heure du pastis—time for a sociable pastis—is practically any hour of the day: before lunch. by commercial distillers. it is a mark of respect and a gesture of friendship to offer a guest a glass of house-made brandy. for instance.” “Le vin de l’assassin. popular cocktails. pastis is regarded as having a beneficial effect on health. in the late afternoon. as the monks concocted them for use as medicines. 2. straight-sided glass. A clear light brown by itself. Pastis-and-water is the basis for a handful of simple. originally from French-speaking Switzerland. however. Adding grenadine makes a pink-red tomate or “tomato. in Charles Baudelaire. Calvados or apple brandy is beloved in the apple-growing regions of Normandy. Bright yellow or green Chartreuse was developed by a Carthusian sect.” “Le vin des chiffoniers. In the Midi. In the countryside. where gardens with fruit trees are common. notably by soothing the stomach and intestines. Most liquors draw their distinctive flavor from an herb. narrow. un Martini in France is a before-dinner glass of herbflavored vermouth. Orange-flavored Cointreau and Grand-Marnier were invented in the mid–nineteenth century. but owes its flavor to a strong infusion of juniper berries. 76–81. 1980). Oeuvres complètes (Paris: Robert Laffont.” The addition of barley syrup gives a Mauresque or Morisco.78 Food Culture in France in 1915.” Les Fleurs du mal (1857). pastis turns a light milky yellow when mixed with water. The bitter flavor of Suze. Suze is drunk over ice and mixed with sparkling water from a tall. root. Unlike its lethal ancestor. Gin is based on rye. comes from gentian roots that have soaked in eau-de-vie. but flavored with herbs and spices. the green drink that results is a perroquet (parrot). opens up a “hole” (trou) so that you can eat more. The theory goes that the small glass of apple brandy. and oats. Grimod de la Reynière. known in this circumstance as a trou normand. Vermouth is based on grapes.

11. French translation by Jean Liébault (Paris: Chez Jaques Du-Puys. 1977). C. Antony Shugaar (New York: Columbia University Press. “T’ang. Le Buveur du XIXe siècle (Paris: Albin Michel. 281.” in Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives. 1990). Silvano Serventi and Françoise Sabban. 1570). Michel Maincent. editor K. 111. 7. Charles Estienne. 1995. 8. “Et le beurre conquit la France. 179.Major Foods and Ingredients 79 3. trans. 2002). 1999). Didier Nourrisson. Histoire sociale et culturelle du vin (Paris: Larousse-Bordas.” L’Histoire 85 (1986): 109. 16.’” Le Monde (May 24. Schafer. 47. 131. Gilbert Garrier. 2002). Le Livre du foie gras (Paris: Flammarion. 1998). L’agriculture et la maison rustique. 10. preface by Pierre Troisgros (Paris: BPI. “L’huile d’olive. Technologie culinaire. 9. Pasta. 18. . Edward H. Jean-Louis Flandrin. un ‘or jaune. 4. 6. Silvano Serventi. Chang (New Haven: Yale University Press. 2006). xiv. 5.


before the war. they had fought tooth and nail to curb . From the kitchen garden. Efficient stoves and the taste for lighter foods. defined as having 1.500 square meters (about 1. In fast-food eateries.3 Cooking Elements that shape cooking practices include available ingredients. cooking has become an assembly process where employees carry out simplified. and of course the cook. SUPERMARKETS As in other urban consumer societies. most food shops were specialized and expensive. This is a recent innovation. highly rationalized preparations.000 to 2.270 square yards) of selling space. home cooks have moved into the small shop and the supermarket. In elite restaurants. not to mention the oversized hypermarché. Price-fixing was common. as well as time pressure and busy schedules have contributed to the rise of fast-cooked foods as rivals to old-style. The transition from a largely agricultural way of life to a fully modern urban and suburban one was completed in the last century. and most food shopping is done at commercial chain supermarchés (supermarkets). economical plats mijotés (slow-cooked dishes). as conservative shopkeepers sought to shield themselves from competition. kitchen technologies. the French acquire nearly all provisions in stores. executive chefs are astute managers as well as gastronomic high priests and food designers. The roles of professional cooks are diverse. At the end of the Second World War.308 to 3.

In 1949. turned belligerent. ever on the lookout for bargains and a favorable rapport qualité-prix (quality-price ratio).2 As in the United States. then reselling them at a full 25 percent below the shop prices. A recent trend for commercial supermarkets and the food industry is to marry the appeal of fresh items with the convenience of food that is prepared. supermarchés stock perishables as well as items designed for long storage such as dried pasta. Nonetheless. he had to do battle with urban department stores such as Monoprix and Prisunic. with an impersonal. the small shopkeepers. Leclerc had to write to the federal government to defend himself.270 square yards). By the 1960s. In most towns where an Auchan or other big store opens. like fast-food restaurants. A chain of supermarkets that is unique to France sells only surgelés (frozen foods). fresh from a decade of schooling in Jesuit seminaries. defined as having selling space greater than 2. some associate the large chains. Today. Sealed containers of fresh fruit salad kept under refrigeration are meant to be sold and eaten within a few days. In the interest of maintaining commercial diversity and protecting the small shops. As Leclerc grew his first store and then opened other outlets. then sealed in plastic can be added directly to a dinner dish as it heats up. and discounters (discount stores). and milk or juice in sealed tretrapacks or bricks that can be stored at room temperature until they are opened. however. the French more than any other European population frequent not just supermarchés but also hypermarchés or grande surfaces (superstores). canned goods. and the Ministère des Finances (Ministry of Finance) took the opportunity to affirm the illegality of price-fixing. and wine. self-service supermarkets had become prevalent and Leclerc’s practices the norm. such as the ban on building an hypermarché within city limits in Paris. whose discounts hardly differed from small shop prices.82 Food Culture in France the growth of cooperative magasins à succursales (chain stores). small shops close. Fresh potatoes that are peeled. packaged. His outraged colleagues. In addition to packages of flash-frozen vegetables or fruits and containers of ice creams . It was in these circumstances that the first of the modern domestic commercial chains got its start. legal limits have been imposed. cooked.1 In this atmosphere. bread. sterile or Americanized way of life.500 square meters (about 3. The fancier stores have specialty counters such as for fresh fish. This practice made a hit among his neighbors in Landerneau (Brittany) as they shopped for dinner. a store that stocked a wide variety of competitively priced comestibles was revolutionary if not actually heretical. the young Édouard Leclerc began buying large quantities of groceries directly from factories and producers. and ready to eat.

Cooking 83 and sorbets. terrines. bread being practically a synonym for life itself. and other pork products). rows of different kinds of food shops cluster together. Guild rules limited what a merchant could sell. sausages. charcuterie (shop for cured meats. the shops are usually located in the town center. boulangerie (bread shop). The old rules are Sausages. the boulangerie has long been an institution even in villages. royal statutes and guilds or corporations structured the manufacturing and retail sectors of the economy. As relatively few households had ovens until the midtwentieth century. and pâtisserie (pastry shop) recall older shopping traditions. In city neighborhoods. In villages and small towns. Courtesy of Janine Depoil. especially hams. . SPECIALTY SHOPS Small specialty stores such as the fromagerie (cheese shop). The specialty shops recall that through the eighteenth century. but also gave the merchant an effective monopoly in that particular line of business. and pâtés at the boucher-charcutier Lavigne in Montceau-les-Mines. hams. these stores sell items such as appetizers that can be quickly prepared by heating in the oven and tart shells to be filled with fruits for dessert or with a savory filling to make a hot lunch.

M. Shopkeepers slice ham to order. in the bourgeois classes the woman of the house remained at home and could shop and cook.and upper-class women entered the workforce and the professions in larger numbers. or midnight. the small shops now offer access to products perceived as high quality and of reliable provenance. or praise a bottle discovered through mon caviste (“my wine seller”).84 Food Culture in France no longer in place. replaced by supermarkets that sell products more cheaply. In affluent areas. Private attendance at annual or seasonal food and wine expositions and trade shows increases yearly. Those who regularly frequent such stores often refer not to the shop itself. it is understood. Most small shops are not self-service. especially outside of the densely populated cities and in small towns. or about 157 to 523 square yards) and corner stores may remain open later still. STORE AND SHOP HOURS Until as recently as the 1980s. Similarly. or supervise the shopping and cooking. Supérettes (convenience stores with selling space measuring 120 to 400 square meters. as well as upscale supermarkets. One may make a trip chez mon poissonnier (“to my fish seller’s”). and bag produce. At this end of the economic spectrum. who. As middle. this schedule became inconvenient and impractical. a strategy opposite that of the generalist supermarket. but boutiques cultivate the aura as well as the practice of specialization. Now most supermarkets and small shops keep evening hours. Interaction between the customer and the shopkeeper is required for the purchase to be transacted. connoisseurs with the means for leisure spending further extend their shopping circuits to venues formerly frequented largely by food professionals. It is considered rude to walk in to a small specialty food store simply to look around. until 11 P. although fruits and vegetables are displayed in open bins. Here specialty shops struggle to survive or have disappeared entirely. sell prepared dishes that are ready to eat. specialty shops run by traiteurs or caterers.M. one refers to the good vegetables chez mon marchand de légumes (“at my grocer’s”). By earlier norms.3 The picture is quite different for less affluent areas. shop hours followed those of the business day. recommend cheeses to be eaten the same day or two days later. Pharmacies alternate night shifts against medical emergencies. but to the person who runs it. during the day. but . remaining open until 7 or 8 P. For the shopper filling a basket with provisions. may be relied on for his expert knowledge in the matter of fish. Food items are displayed behind glass or on shelves behind a counter.

and imports are flown in daily from Israel. During the late nineteenth century. a special rich odor hangs in the air. to expand while easing urban traffic congestion.Cooking 85 other stores do not stay open round the clock. and other locations. Cheeses have been fully aged under proper conditions of temperature and humidity. driving cattle before them or carrying heavy baskets of provisions to sell. the novelist Émile Zola “scientifically” described the sprawling Parisian market located for centuries at Les Halles. French cooking in general and la cuisine du marché in particular seek to bring out or improve the inherent features of good ingredients. in some instances. Benin. Morocco. MARKETS The daily. As much as the opportunity to buy edibles and ingredients. and the market is a place to see and be seen. La cuisine du marché (market cooking) implies taking inspiration from seasonal ingredients. outdoor marketing offers possibilities for socializing and a picturesque experience. Meats have been hung to develop their flavor and tenderness. the produce. the market relocated to Rungis. it is these elements of market culture that draw crowds. south of Paris. . Truckloads of domestic produce arrive every morning. the market is the rapacious gullet and grumbling gut of the city. The heart and soul of food shopping dwell in the smaller retail markets. Turkey. 1873). weekly. Ironically. the fresh perfume from the flower stands. Food shopping is part of the business of the day. Zola documents in fascinating detail the nocturnal march that country dwellers made to arrive in the city by early morning. Rungis is a wholesale market open to professionals and retailers such as restaurant chefs and grocers. the rank stench that pervaded the fish and the meat sections by the day’s end in summer—the first modern refrigeration technology was still in its infancy and it was not yet widely available. and cheeses for sale at outdoor markets are identical to those in the supermarkets. In Le Ventre de Paris (The Belly of Paris. At a good market. Fruits are at the peak of ripeness. Beyond access to fresh foods.4 Yet the notion that markets offer the best local items directly from a farmer or producer is not always wrong. China. rivalries among merchants who compete for customers. In the 1960s. or weekend outdoor marchés (markets) in cities and towns can be traced through medieval trade and monastic fairs and to the marketplaces established in Gaul by the Romans. meats. An ultra-modern supply chain provisions the market. swallowing up the lives of the individuals whose work there keeps the rest of the capital alive. Today. The stroll through the outdoor market is an end in itself.

they recall “my mother’s” version of a dish as the very best. or white wine • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar • pinch salt • 1 2-inch piece of a vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract • 2 2-inch cinnamon sticks • 2 whole cloves • nutmeg Mix the lemon juice and 1/2 cup water in a bowl. familiar. like housework and childcare. sugar. and quarter the apples. add vanilla extract. dipping each section briefly into the lemon mixture to prevent discoloring. was long the province of women. The phrase la cuisine grand-mère (grandmother’s cooking) describes dishes that are thought to be old-fashioned and soul-satisfying. nostalgia centered around food and cuisine de ménage or cuisine familiale (home cooking) tends to have an association with women. Grate a dash of nutmeg over each serving. cover the pot. . Peel. as well. preferably a firm cooking variety such as Granny Smith • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice • 1/2 cup water • 2 cups water. When people reminisce. Allow the apples to cool in their syrup. Stewed Apples (Compote de pommes) • 6 large apples. Take the pot off the heat. cinnamon sticks. hard apple cider. apple cider. and contemporary notions of gender equality have brought men.86 Food Culture in France COOKING AT HOME Cooking at home. Particularly in younger couples. core. into the home kitchen as cooks and nurturers for their families and households. If no vanilla bean was used. and cloves. such as the simple home dessert compote de pommes. the tasks—or pleasures—of cooking and food shopping are likely to be shared. In a saucepan. however. the entry of women into the professions. serve the apples with cream or a scoop of ice cream. The education of women including higher education. and comforting. and gently simmer for about 5 minutes. If desired. salt. then reduce the heat and simmer slowly for 10 minutes. vanilla bean (if using). You may need to baste and turn the apples once or twice to make sure they are coated with syrup. Add the apples. combine 2 cups water (or cider or wine). Bring the syrup to the boil. until the apples are cooked but still intact.

such as . is more varied and experimental. affluence. Home cooks take advantage of fresh preparations from specialty shops. bring in fresh plates for the next course. steaming (for vegetables). Ready-made. refill water and wine glasses. the economical. and technical competence are balanced by any number of outside influences. Home cooking today. and carve roasts. coming from the kitchen. although it is a part of nearly every meal. however. slow-simmered soups or stews of past centuries have largely been replaced by quick dishes. budget. meats in fillets and chops. The repetitions imposed by time. yogurt. Cooking technology.Cooking 87 Regardless of professional accomplishments that women realize outside the home. Other staples of the kitchen and table purchased ready-made include jams. Today. For a holiday or birthday celebration. Until quite recently. Men uncork wine bottles. Basic kitchen equipment and a dining table with chairs are among the very first items that a young person or couple setting up house will buy. cheese. charcuterie. despite the prevalence of eating out. prepared. and semi-prepared elements further facilitate the task of cooking and serving meals at home. personal taste. from televised cooking shows to the wide variety of domestic and imported foods in stores. and the mustard that is ubiquitous in vinaigrette dressing for salads and as a condiment for meats. cooking remains a central feature of home life. A written recipe often consisted of only a few words jotted on a scrap of paper or in a family book as an aide-mémoire (prod to the memory). In addition to preparing meals. tradition. baking for items that do not require long exposure to heat. and carry in food from the kitchen. and pressure cooking are the preferred methods. female family members are likely to stack up used plates and carry them away from the table. Breakfast pastries such as brioche and croissant are purchased from the boulanger or pâtissier. and produce that can be eaten raw in salads. A family’s entire kitchen library consisted of one or two basic printed cookbooks. and time pressures factor into this trend. such as fish in fillets. a cake may be bought from a pâtissier. Searing or sautéing. participation in the family meal still often relies on the performance of roles that remain defined by gender. FAST COOKING AND SHORTCUTS In home kitchens. Supermarkets sell items suited to the fast cooking methods. Bread is almost never made at home. The continuity and sense of tradition that marked these practices corresponded to repetition. recipes were transmitted within families primarily as cooking techniques. used primarily as references for proportions or methods.

Baked Cod with Tomatoes (Cabillaud à la portugaise) • 2 pounds fresh cod fillets • salt • pepper • 1/3 cup olive oil • 1/3 cup chopped onion • 4 medium tomatoes • 3 cloves garlic. loose raw sausage meat or ground pork with spices or herbs. Minimal fuss yields a fresh. Before serving. In rustic dwellings having no separate room for cooking. The stove has evolved in a particularly dramatic fashion. until the onion and tomato soften and the sauce thickens. and a modern stove. and dice them. then peel. then gives the stuffed vegetables a quick turn on the stove in an inch of liquid or pops them into the oven. tomato. Drop the tomatoes in boiling water for 20 seconds to facilitate peeling. the central features are running water. Stir the onion. which became standard in France in the 1950s. TOOLS IN THE HOME KITCHEN The efficient. home-cooked main dish. Pour in the wine. sprinkle the whole fish or each serving with chopped parsley. simple preparation but lively flavor describe this typical recipe for baked fish with a tomato sauce. Pour the tomato sauce over the fish. one simply spoons the flavored meat into hollowed-out tomatoes or zucchini. rationalized kitchen that is typical became so only during the last half-century. crushed • 1/2 cup dry white wine • 1/2 teaspoon sugar • 6 sprigs parsley. an easy plat (main course) for a summer lunch or dinner. garlic. add the sugar. Bake 25 minutes. and lay out flat in a baking dish. one cooked over a brazier or else in pots suspended above an open fire that vented through . then taste and season with salt and pepper. Similarly. At home.88 Food Culture in France a butcher’s mixture of fresh. chopped Preheat the oven to 350° F. seed. then sprinkle on both sides with salt and pepper. Coat the fish thoroughly with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. and remaining olive oil together in a saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes. As in any western kitchen.

The multipurpose surfaces are appreciated in city apartments.or tile-covered fourneaux (“furnaces”) slow simmering and stewing in pots on the stovetop. is usually electric. fires in chimneys in the great houses conveniently supported spit roasting. By the seventeenth century. The gas stove avoided the burden of stocking wood or charcoal. cast iron and other metal stoves became available. Accomplished amateur cooks prize restaurant-grade appliances such as oversize gas stoves that throw powerful flames. hand-held plunge mixeurs (blenders) that convert vegetables into soup. By the end of the eighteenth century. Fours à micro-ondes (microwaves). often separate from the stovetop. The 1850s saw the invention of the gas stove. and brick. and la vaisselle (dishes) complete the equipment in the home kitchen. beaters. This modification facilitated baking and the simultaneous preparation of multiple dishes. Today. even a simple or modest kitchen has connections for the full range of appareils électroménagers (appliances) now considered basic and essential. Beyond the major appliances. where space comes at a premium. made by General Motors. Electric stoves with burner disks or coils that come to temperature became common in the 1960s. recently. although wealthy families purchased Frigidaires.Cooking 89 the roof. Recent innovations such as smooth ceramic stovetops and plaques à induction (magnetic induction cooktops) that do not retain heat when no cooking is in process double as countertops. and. aesthetics. suburban dwellers with spacious houses may have a larger refrigerator with a substantial freezer section and keep a separate deep freezer in a basement or garage. and released fewer particulate pollutants. both gas and variations on the electrical stove—efficient for slow cooking—are prevalent in home kitchens. Today. Congélateurs (freezers) are less common. as well as in cooking as such. allowed easy control over the cooking flame. and energy conservation. as early as the late 1920s. self-contained electrical steamers for vegetables. . Dishwashers and range vents above the stove are prevalent. In addition to the top range. which became widely available in the 1930s. food processors. The four (oven). an offshoot of radar technology developed in the United States during the Second World War. common gadgets in home kitchens include coffee makers. A réfrigérateur or frigo (refrigerator) has been standard since the late 1960s. Their engineering and design reflect contemporary interest in safety. Ustensiles or petits outils (utensils). la batterie de cuisine (pots and pans). metal stoves came to include multiple ovens with individual access doors. have been popular since the 1970s. Situating the fire on a hearth against an exterior wall and venting through a chimney imposed a sense of containment.

including commissioning the Sèvres manufacture. Early experiments with pressure cooking date to the seventeenth century. over which one slides vegetables. the marmite à pression or autocuiseur (pressure cooker) became popular only after the Second World War. and trivets. frying. and beat ingredients in mixing bowls or in pots or pans. sliced. By contrast. when the Cocotte-Minute was marketed for fast cooking and energy efficiency. heat resistance. although it is often weekend cooks and connoisseurs who take the time to use them. poaching. durability. a firmly anchored. Equally typical rustic glazed terra cotta is found in the South. spatule (spatula). gives the desired consistency and subtly blends the strong perfumes. crushing together garlic cloves and salt. The whirling blades of a food processor or blender produce an unattractive mixture that is too uniform in texture. In sets of . and râpe (grater) complete the basic kitchen tool kit. mix. shallow soup plates with a wide diameter and deep flat rim. silicone is becoming ubiquitous in the kitchen for flexible kneading and baking surfaces. passoire (colander). silicone supplement the wooden spoons. and after-dinner coffee cups. smaller plates for amuse-bouches (appetizers). In the South. some cooks insist that the only way to make good pistou (pesto for stirring into vegetable soup) is by hand using a mortier et pilon (mortar and pestle). fruits. and other preparations destined for the oven. such as decorative Quimper ware from Brittany. France has been known for elegant china. Poêles and sauteuses (pots and pans) are used for boiling. a variety of couteaux (knives). For centuries wooden and metal spoons have served to stir. Many people use the mandoline. A fouet (whisk). and impermeability to stains and odors. or cheese that must be scored. cutting. braising. and it is a feature of many kitchens. julienned. and paring are essentials. a couteau économe (peeler). or grated. toss. raclette (scraper). and searing. basil leaves and olive oil. The cocotte is still appreciated for these qualities. Sturdy enameled cast iron pots for simmering soups and stews over a steady heat and for baking in the oven are appreciated. Sets of plates usually include the typical hemispherical breakfast bowls for café au lait in addition to flat dinner plates. These implements are designed to last for decades. in addition to utensils. and surfaces for chopping. Home cooks use porcelain and stoneware dishes to bake gratins. angled surface holding multiple blades. tartes.90 Food Culture in France Despite the capacities of electrical food processors. Since the importation of porcelain from China and the efforts of Louis XIV to promote luxury industries. cake molds. recently. However. dessert plates. With its extraordinary flexibility. the various regions are known for their local styles. Newer utensils made of hard plastic and. sautéing.

The BEP or Brevet d’études professionelles and the CAP or Certificat d’aptitude professionelle for cooking are the vocational diplomas for two-year programs taken at the end of high school. A BTS or Brevet de technicien supérieur is a more advanced two. but most cooks worked under a maître d’hôtel who managed the establishment or else they reported to the propriétaire or restaurateur (owner) himself. the culinary profession began to come into its own. it was cheaper to exploit the old system of apprenticeship than to hire relatively demanding cooking school graduates. preparing sauces. whether chefs de cuisine (executive chefs) or cuisiniers (line cooks). and one had to work one’s way up from the very bottom. chefs train both in cooking schools and through modern apprenticeships. thus professionalizing the work of cooking. Nonetheless. cooks united to form mutual aid societies. In the 1840s. for instance in foodservice. the new institutions were issuing diplomas for students finishing their three-year programs. Despite many obstacles. Few chefs achieved independence or autonomy with the rise of the restaurant in the eighteenth century. PROFESSIONAL COOKS Professional or career chefs. By the century’s end. The cooking schools initially struggled. The grand cooking that evolved in aristocratic houses and that underpins elite cooking in today’s fine restaurants was carried out by individuals regarded as little more than servants. Paid cooks have long toiled in the worst of conditions. Today. The first cooking school was established in 1881. and restaurateurs opposed them. The lowliest apprentice scoured pots and washed dishes before being promoted to chopping vegetables. Restaurants and job opportunities multiplied during the nineteenth century. nineteenth-century chefs made significant efforts to improve their working lives.or three-year technical course.Cooking 91 silverware or stainless steel flatware. that follows the baccalauréat. Trade and professional journals emerged that were written by and for the chefs. Opinion is divided as to whether a lengthy apprenticeship and a series of stages (shorter periods of training) under reputable chefs in good restaurants . as the tines of the fork face down on a set table. winning little recognition and minimal remuneration for long hours in dangerously hot. and cooking. forks are designed to be attractive from the back. smoky kitchens. Boys and young men learned the cooking trade through apprenticeship. They replace the baccalauréat (high school diploma) earned at the end of (in American terms) thirteenth grade. Cooking exhibitions and competitions that showed off cooks’ talents multiplied. For restaurant owners. have with few exceptions been men.

have a relatively low status within the Éducation nationale (national education system). where the use of semi-prepared products often moves the food toward an industrial model. along with their students and graduates. and hospital cafeterias.7 and most paid cooks do not work in commercial restaurants at all. who assume the rigors of restaurant work as a way to establish themselves within the country. local. The award is quite prestigious. in military mess halls. The media favor a glamorous vision of the elite culinary world. Inherent difficulties in the profession have not changed much over the centuries.5 Cooking and hotel schools. such situations bring higher salaries. graduates and most chefs are qualified as service workers and earn an hourly wage or contract fees. At the same time. Because cooking school curricula are practical. In addition to cooking. they now managed and became principal financial stakeholders. which privileges the liberal professions and professional courses. It is significant that at present. a more predictable workload.92 Food Culture in France or a diploma from a respected hotel or culinary school offers the better entrée to a career. some chefs have redefined their roles within commercial restaurants and a few achieved spectacular public success. By contrast. business. the majority find employment in school. however. and the use of relatively modern kitchens. Rather. more reasonable hours. One expert calculates a deficit of cooks in the tens of thousands. with few days off each year.6 A talented baker or other food producer who wins one of the widely recognized competitions is named Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Worker in France) in his category. prison. Yet despite the respect for craft and appreciation for quality. professionals or salariés such as teachers and office workers earn a yearly salary and benefits. many bistros and restaurants serving traditional. Winners proudly post it in their shop windows. such as pâtissier or boulanger. or regional foods are operated by immigrant families. and it is difficult to fill jobs for cooks in casual restaurants and other everyday commercial contexts. After the Second World War. a handful of enterprising chefs took the step of buying their own restaurants gastronomiques (high-end restaurants). the term ouvrier reminds the winner that he is a laborer as well as an artisan.8 There is a perception that the opportunity for creative cooking is limited in these contexts. Most restaurant cooks do not own the establishments in which they work. STAR CHEFS In the last few decades. To work as a chef is punishing. In 1951. relative to typical commercial restaurant work. Being a cook requires long hours of manual labor. and in retirement homes. a group of owner-manager chefs formed the Association des Maîtres .

Today. Michel Guérard. the chef may also lend the cachet of his name for marketing. the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (National Institute for Agronomic Research). For chefs. In return. for the finest of the fine restaurants are so expensive to run that they are rarely profitable. into homes across the country.Cooking 93 Chef Michel Troisgros (second from left) of the three-star restaurant Troisgros in Roanne at work with his staff. and Paul Bocuse have cultivated ties with the industrie agroalimentaire (agricultural-alimentary industry). Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard publicunpact. In 1953. Alain Senderens. Acting as a consultant and advisor. The Association aimed to promote high-quality restaurants and the autonomous chef de cuisine. Michelin-starred chefs such as Joël Robuchon. cuisiniers de France. the company underwrites the chef’s restaurant. Michel Troisgros. such as packaged meals for airlines or for retail in commercial supermarket chains. the roles played by a select group of elite chefs extend far beyond activity in a single restaurant kitchen to affect a much wider market. the first televised cooking show brought elegant cuisine and an accomplished. independent chef as star performer. Companies in the agro-alimentary industry and chefs themselves further cultivate links to private and government-supported research laboratories such as INRA. Since the 1970s. the chef assists a company to improve quality in mass-produced items. To this cuisine sous contrat (cooking on contract). contracts with .

The mères came to prominence starting at the end of the nineteenth century and. their cooking relied essentially on local Chef Monique Salera cooking in her restaurant La Dame d’Aquitaine in Dijon. helped by restaurant reviewers and food writers. In contrast with the elaborate preparations and expensive exotic ingredients used in elite restaurants. Until as recently as the mid-twentieth century. became quite well known. The history of the cuisinières has yet to be elaborated beyond anecdote. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. finance. There is also the small group of remarkable chef-proprietors known since the end of the eighteenth century as mères (mothers). in part because of their influence on successful male chefs. many middle class and smaller bourgeois households employed a cuisinière (female cook) who worked under the direct supervision of the mistress of the house. In either case. however. and government. The mères are associated especially with the Lyon area. the purview of the star chef extends beyond the restaurant kitchen and dining room to overlapping spheres of industry. . early in the twentieth. Some of their restaurants began as tiny establishments that served home-style dishes to feed the canuts (silk-workers) who populated the city.94 Food Culture in France agro-alimentary companies may be coercive or beneficial. A few of the mères. WOMEN CHEFS There have been a few notable exceptions to the gender divide in professional cooking.

in the press. coated with breadcrumbs. along with food items.10 Today. Their success flies in the face of traditions of food writing. then served with fresh chervil sauce).11 PROFESSIONAL COOKING Venues for professional cooking vary from local bistros and cafés to the grand restaurants gastronomiques. rather than as capable connoisseurs. pike quenelles (poached fine-textured fish dumplings) with crayfish sauce. along with salt. eventually. is to this day open only to men. eel stew. as consumables. restaurant reviewing. and early promoter of nouvelle cuisine Paul Bocuse is said to have scoffed at the capacity of female cooks for refined. not to mention grande cuisine or haute cuisine.9 In this era a mandate recommended cooking instruction in the public schools. or grand cuisine. Hostility to the entry of women into the world of professional cooks has long emanated from the ranks of male cooks who feared competition. In the twentieth century. bon-vivant. These chefs were as often as not simply called La Mère … (Mother So-and-So) by their clients and. garlic. styles of restaurant cooking . The exclusive Club des Cent (Hundred Club). the great chef. and cervelle de canuts (“silk-weavers brains”—fresh cheese seasoned with chives. chicken poached with morels or truffles. the most widely recognized indicator of quality for a restaurant. a few talented female chefs in prominent restaurants challenge the strong masculine association to good restaurant food. and professional cooking culture that have been actively hostile to seeing women work in professional kitchens. A congress of (male) cooks from throughout France and Algeria that met in Paris in 1893 declared its opposition to the entry of women as apprentices in the great restaurant and hotel kitchens. Gastronomy—the knowledgeable appreciation of food—has tended to view women. tablier de sapeur (tripe that is marinated. cooking school students and apprentices working in restaurants note the macho culture and inhospitable climate prevalent in many professional kitchens. The group did support teaching women from the popular classes the art of home cooking as part of a more general enseignement ménager (course in domestic economy). Today. rather than by their first and last names.Cooking 95 ingredients and relatively simple methods. Dishes associated with their restaurants include roasted chicken. savory onion tarts. and red wine vinegar). founded in 1912 as a private automobile club whose members sought out restaurants for touring destinations. but this also aimed to train women for their roles as mothers and nurturers within the family. omelets. pepper. Several won and many kept for years one or more Michelin stars. horseradish. fried. innovative.

These elements were assembled before the cooking. an ice (sometimes served as an entremets). and they added interest to the final presentation. Escoffier’s volume is a grammar of cuisine classique (classical cooking). The style of cooking that underpins today’s school curricula and that takes place in fine-dining restaurants emerged from the aristocratic traditions of the great houses and from court cuisine as well as from their continuations by private cooks in bourgeois houses of the eighteenth. The découpage (carving) was carried out in the dining room. and early twentieth centuries. Dishes often featured touches such as layers of stuffings and decorative pastry shells. a salad. may be cooked in different ways. A proper meal in the grand style consisted of potage or soup. Rules for menu composition imposed balance and variety. Each combination pulled from the matrix is a specific dish with its own name. dessert. A given cut of meat. a hot appetizer or hors-d’oeuvre followed by a relevé that was seasoned to provide flavor contrast. Fish and meat must not be combined in the same dish: they belonged in separate courses. Until as late as the 1970s. and accompanied by a selection of fillings or garnishes that lend flavor. The menus available on a daily basis in wealthy houses and in grand restaurants were for banquets. and waiters served from full-sized platters that they carried around the table. cheese. Repetition must be avoided from garnish to vegetable to side dish. for instance. between roast and cheese) that often consisted of foie gras. yet clearly related to other dishes with which it may be paired or contrasted to compose a full meal.. Cold and hot dishes must alternate. served with a variety of sauces.96 Food Culture in France range from traditional and regional to the cuisines exotiques (“exotic” cuisines) borrowed from around the world. The peak of success for grand cooking came at the turn of the twentieth century and is best reflected in the Guide culinaire (1903) of Auguste Escoffier. codifying. Sweet. nineteenth. . dishes were served en salle (in the dining room).e. in some cases to finish the cooking. desserts such as crêpes Suzette were flambéed tableside. soft dishes such as a creamy dessert must be accompanied by a dry biscuit for contrast.” i. a variety of entrées or first courses. and rationalizing grand cooking into a clear system. an entremets (“between dishes. Influential transformations occurred in high-end restaurant cooking during the middle and late twentieth century. a cavernous chamber appointed with industrial strength appliances and staffed by a numerous brigade (contingent of kitchen staff) in a large hotel. a roast. Staff performed numerous tasks. and coffee. The workspace may be a tiny room that differs little from a home kitchen. He defines its basic elements and rules for combining them. or something in between.

to which liquid is added). “exotics” from kiwis to couscous further inflected French cooking. Foie gras moved from the end of the meal to the start as a first course or entrée. Ultimately the meal was simplified to today’s standard of three courses: entrée (first course). magret de canard (breast of duck). As chefs traveled abroad and as immigrants from the former colonies introduced new foods and ingredients. elements of nouvelle cuisine such as the emphasis on fresh ingredients and clear flavors are part of the culinary lexicon of nearly every discerning chef. transformations traceable to about mid-century pushed food and service in the direction of contemporary practice. Chefs brought together items formerly separated into different courses and began to use ingredients formerly excluded from elegant cooking. They now preferred fruit and vegetable purées and reductions. Service was now à l’assiette (by individual plate). chefs initiated a kind of control and direct contact with individual diners by plating food in the kitchen.Cooking 97 As chefs asserted their autonomy. In 1973. Today. Chefs rejected as heavy and antiquated the overuse of preparations such as the roux (flour cooked in butter. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. Beginning in the 1950s. Chicken and shrimp brochettes (grilled on skewers) were an innovation. Unconventional combinations appeared. as was green salad topped with slices of foie gras. and dessert. plat. the food critics and guidebook authors Henri Gault and Christian Millau called the new style nouvelle cuisine (new cuisine) and became its outspoken champions. . the grand serving platters disappeared. A fish preparation from the Troisgros kitchen shows the influence of nouvelle cuisine. and they sought to make food taste as fresh as possible. a thickening liaison used as a sauce base. or gésier (gizzard) confit.

a group of chefs published a manifesto protesting the encroachment of globalizing influences and praising all things native and local. casual restaurant kitchens exploit industrial innovations: pre-prepared vegetables. everyday fare provide a steady continuo beneath the elaborate melodies of fashion and fad. Relatively simple establishments serving well-prepared. striking mixtures of foreign and local ingredients and methods. In the 1990s. as a matter of principle. and cream sauce deconstructed into its component parts. nostalgic. the proponents of la jeune cuisine (young cuisine) take a personal. with their old hierarchies and structures. Outspoken fusion cuisine. Instead. occupies a relatively small space in France. or to compensate for insufficient staff. dehydrated fonds de sauce (sauce bases). quirky approach to highly refined cooking that is also creative. precooked items. even homely dishes to eaters whose nostalgia for home cooking finds no answer in a fast-paced lifestyle or perhaps in living alone. or deliberately conservative. offers familiar. Varieties of cuisine du terroir focus on native ingredients and dishes. Within the last five years. even ludic. Several distinct trends are at work in contemporary restaurant cooking. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. Chefs in a variety of contexts adopt new materials and industrial techniques. such as cooking sous vide (“in a vacuum”). Cuisine de tradition. they attach to a political ideology that seeks to resist or attenuate outside influences and to affirm a local or regional identity. a kind of comfort food. For convenience. In some cases. These menus may be authentic. A piece of food enclosed in a sealed bag or container is cooked at a relatively low . a nouvelle vague (new wave) of young cooks with outstanding credentials from apprenticeships in top kitchens has moved beyond the domain of Michelin-starred restaurants. characterized by bold.98 Food Culture in France Post-modern food from the Troisgros kitchen: pasta with a mushroom. economy. truffle.

the activities of producers (cooks. and according to precise timing. restaurants multiplied. interest. writers) exerted a mutual influence. and shared enjoyment. As in the United States. Today. Since antiquity. But other pleasure. reported on restaurants and food items ostensibly as he experienced them. Over two centuries. and the chef is spared worry. . COOKING AND THE MEDIA French food has long been known for its special éclat (sparkle and glamour). paeans to the pleasures of the table are ancient. as well as giving their addresses. leitmotif. Grimod de la Reynière. More recently. the players in the various culinary and gastronomic spheres have multiplied. Each reinforced the importance. Through the eighteenth century. The first decade of the nineteenth century. agricultural and medical treatises. food sellers) and consumers (eaters. Geography or budget may prevent one from visiting an outstanding restaurant in a neighboring province. ritual. and coherence. readers. and the scope of their activities has increased. variety.Cooking 99 temperature. fashion in food emanated from grand houses and the royal court. legitimacy. the results are predictable. the first narrative food guide judged Parisian restaurants for quality. and poems have treated aspects of food culture as a primary subject or ancillary topic. however. and stakes for the other. the prevalent associations are quality. In principle. Since the early nineteenth century. such works as domestic tracts and novels have done the same. and knowledge derive from reading a newspaper review of the restaurant. Durable print extended the life and reach of ephemeral edibles. As political and social structures evolved (highlighted by the Revolution of 1789). saw important innovations in food writing. and a new food publishing industry gained impressive momentum. and consumers.12 To be sure. the reputation and prominence of French cuisine within the country and beyond is due not only to the excellence and variety of the food but also to the elaboration of discourses about that food. standards of quality can be guaranteed. with little added liquid. Contained within the yearly publication entitled the Almanach des Gourmands (Gourmands’ Almanac. notably the first modern-style narrative food guide and food periodical. This back-and-forth democratizes food cultures and also serves to legislate and regulate standards of taste and quality. 1803–1812). publicists. chefs and food producers interact intensively with writers. Since the seventeenth century it has enjoyed tremendous prestige. histories. Here. His judgments also affected the subsequent activities of chefs and caterers concerned to receive favorable reviews. The guide author. or obsessive theme. along with conviviality.

and stimulates the imagination. Gilles Normand. purchasing the chef ’s cookbook. Some have stated their lack of interest in the distinction of a Michelin star and chosen to prepare food that expresses a personal preference or philosophy. There is a marked increase in the recent publication of cookbooks for “exotic” cuisines (of Thailand. 4. providing a space for fantasy in which the dining table is a vanishing point in the far distance. The phenomenon indexes the social prestige of food connoisseurship in an affluent society. and perhaps making some of his recipes at home.100 Food Culture in France watching a televised interview with the chef. A critical piece banishes the chef to culinary and economic purgatory. It includes food shows on television. the media extension of food in France is now vast. Histoire des maisons à succursales en France (Paris: Union des entreprises modernes. in other words. food-related Web sites and databases. trans. and periodicals devoted to food and cooking. or Japan) or focusing on clearly foreign foodstuffs (from Anglo muffins or scones to Chinese wok dishes). 3. teaching viewers and readers how to cook and about food. They ignore as interference the mediating roles of critic and reporter to please themselves and their clients directly. Market Day in Provence. From day to day. Michèle de la Pradelle. As in the United States.” in Drinking Cultures: Alcohol and Identity. A newspaper column influences home cooks seeking ideas for dinner. 396–405. 2006). Wilson (Oxford: Berg. The interactions of food producers and consumers further shape and regulate—prescribe and proscribe—standards of quality and concepts of good taste. 1982). France in the 1980s (New York: Penguin. 139. John Ardagh. editor Thomas M. 1936). These chefs have taken themselves out of the running for prestigious honors. it is the home cooks and restaurant chefs who serve up continuity and creativity on the plate. Amy Jacobs (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. to conform. 2. They refuse. 2005). too. in order to cook by their own lights. Morocco. A strong review sends customers flocking in droves to a restaurant. “Consuming Wine in France: The ‘Wandering’ Drinker and the Vin-anomie. 1983. . An everlarger number of cookbooks are available in bookstores. Yet the response of writers and critics influences cooks. NOTES 1. The power of critics is so strong that a few chefs at the most elevated end of the cooking spectrum have rebelled. The mediatization of cuisine encourages participation. Marion Demossier.

3 (November 1998): 597–641 and Accounting for Taste: The Triumph of French Cuisine (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 10. 2004). “Guerre des sexes au fourneau!. 20.. 2004). “A Cultural Field in the Making: Gastronomy in 19th-Century France. Drouard. 9. 54. 12. 8. 131 and passim in Julia Csergo and Christophe Marion. Drouard. 2006). 2004). 7. Sylvie-Anne Mériot. La Reynière [Robert Courtine].’” Le Monde (May 21. Drouard.” American Journal of Sociology 104. no. Histoire de l’alimentation: Quels enjeux pour la formation? (Dijon: Educagri. Histoire des cuisiniers en France XIXe-XXe siècle (Paris: CNRS. Nostalgic Cooks: Another French Paradox. Trevor Cox and Chanelle Paul (Boston: Brill. “Ces dames au ‘piano. trans. Alain Drouard. Patrick Rambourg.” L’Histoire 273 (February 2003): 25–26. 11. Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson. eds.Cooking 101 5. 133. 1977). 6. .


and as an opportunity to enjoy the sensual pleasures of food and drink. From one to four meals daily was common. at about 8 P. region. may still be substantial and served in three courses (entrée. Seasonal changes and religious observance also played a role. The structure of the French meal. Because both men and women work outside the home.1 Elites might eat twice daily. eating schedules varied greatly according to profession.4 Typical Meals Three meals each day is typical in France. the familiar structure frames conversation and reinforces the separation of mealtime from the hustle and bustle of the day. long the main meal for many people. The dîner. and income. is now an important meal. although for different groups of people. is insubstantial. as a time to see family members.M. . the déjeuner (lunch). The evening meal is looked forward to as a respite from the day’s work. As the service of dishes progresses. dinner is often the only weekday meal for which the whole family can gather together at table. for example. taken in the morning before school or work. The petit déjeuner (breakfast). plat. At noon. and fromage or dessert) or may consist of a sandwich eaten on the run.. is especially conducive to relaxed enjoyment at table. with its unfolding sequence of courses. Through the late nineteenth century. MEAL TIMES Today’s standard three meals evolved over centuries.

but this was not consistent. the sense of leisure. usually consisted of soup. but in the countryside the word souper is still used to mean the evening meal. For agricultural workers who stayed in the fields all day long and for those who worked far from home. Affluence also made significant social reforms possible. the first meal. the morning déjeuner and mid-day dîner each migrated later in the day. and then finally the souper. wine. the déjeuner might be practically the only nourishment throughout the day. most likely made of vegetables and grains. For those who ate all four meals. After the Second World War. Because the first substantial meal was now relatively late. By the 1890s. By the early nineteenth century. or coffee was still somewhat remarkable. A smaller meal (le souper). this early meal was called le petit (small) déjeuner. The names used today for the three meals recall how practices have changed over time. this meal could also include meat and wine. The demographic and industrial shift resulted in the shared work schedule that now prevails. technological modernization and the massive exodus from villages and rural areas to cities transformed society. again soup or light stew. after accomplishing the morning’s work.104 Food Culture in France and manual laborers up to four times each day. The name suggests that the presence for a déjeuner of items other than liquid soup. then called the déjeuner (“to break the fast”). the population of villagers and rural dwellers is small. if they were available. a second. The professional classes preferred to eat a large déjeuner at noon or one o’clock. School and most work schedules are designed to allow . that is. the light goûter or snack. The déjeuner à la fourchette. as larger numbers of people cultivated the leisurely enjoyment of carefully prepared. and bread. middle-class and modern bourgeois family dinner makes an equally important contribution to quality of life. Today. the custom of privileging the evening dîner gained in the nineteenth century. Despite the importance of the mid-day meal. which included meat and required the use of a fork and knife.2 As recently as the late eighteenth century. might be added in the early evening. including the month of paid vacation given to salaried workers since 1965 (converted to five weeks in 1981) and the 35-hour workweek instituted in the late 1990s. smaller déjeuner was added to tide over appetites until mid-day. As industrial jobs increased in number and urban populations became larger. supper was the most substantial meal. the mid-day dîner (or collation). Today. and convivial enjoyment that accompanies the working-class. the mid-day meal was sometimes called a déjeuner à la fourchette (fork luncheon). material comfort. was often a working meal in the sense of today’s business lunches. For those in modest circumstances. there was the déjeuner. possibly quite elaborate and luxurious meals in a sociable setting.

the family meal is at times a locus of tension. crisp. Edibles seek complements. Because most people throughout the country take meals at about the same time. For a summer seasonal entrée. or fish. with perhaps a fruit or sweet to finish. the family meal or a full meal with friends or colleagues is a central feature of daily life. the French place a high value on sociability and community. others do not keep late evening hours. becomes more than the sum of its parts. such as an omelet. As in many countries. there is a strong shared feeling of the rhythm of the day. so that staff have evenings free.. as well as to enjoy every last drop of the sauce.M. so the appetite is not overwhelmed by the succession of different edibles. fresh radishes are balanced . Factors such as the fast pace of modern life. that food tastes better when it is shared. making the meal an expression of shared values. so that both ingredients end up tasting even better. outmoded. or a cooked salad. and a finished dish. Eating is considered a convivial activity par excellence. The community aspect of meals strengthens social ties and even the sense of equality. This is a convenient way to clean the plate between courses if the plates are not changed. be it ever so simple. larger numbers of people living alone. to reopen in the afternoon at 1:30 or 2:00 P. it may consist of eggs. freedom from the ritual of the family meal may be experienced as an opportunity to develop a more individual lifestyle. An entrée or first course might consist of soup. Many think that to eat “all alone” (manger tout seul) is sad. although others worry about a decline of traditional ways and deterioration of the social fabric. As a culture. small pieces of bread are used to sop up sauces and salad dressings. Portions are small. and balance and harmony are sought when planning a meal. The French palate prefers rich and deep flavors over sharp or spicy ones. peppery. Although the practice is frowned on in polite (such as bourgeois) circles. make the family meal seem for some irrelevant. Nonetheless. and people take a slice or break off a piece of a loaf as desired. Afterward comes a green tossed salad and a cheese course. poultry.Typical Meals 105 breaks for meals. Bread is placed on the table throughout the meal. Especially in the younger generation. Some shops and offices close at mid-day. a plate of crudités (raw vegetables) served with a vinaigrette dressing. STRUCTURE OF A MAIN MEAL The dishes that make up a main meal appear in a succession of separate courses. This is followed by a plat principal or main dish. and the replacement or disappearance of the nuclear family as the defining social unit. or simply impossible to achieve. A main dish usually contains meat.

Similarly. a dash of . When eating at home. restaurants serving a foreign cuisine (Vietnamese. which are thought of as substitutions or deviations. A hot main dish may be followed by a crisp. For a main dish. much less a proper meal.106 Food Culture in France with creamy dairy butter spread on fresh bread and finished with a sprinkling of salt. the clean acidity of tomato and the aroma of anise seed complement the sweet marine flavors in a fish soup. and so on) adapt their menus to follow French custom. If a meal is abbreviated on a busy weeknight—say. plats. and interest in eating lighter. a French press that allows ground coffee to release its fragrance into freshly boiled water before a dense hard filter is lowered in to separate out the grounds. especially women concerned with weight gain. smaller meals for health reasons mitigate against preparing and eating the full succession of courses. Eating a sandwich for a quick lunch would not be called taking a meal. cool salad. Sweets are saved for the end of a meal. there is a self-consciousness about making them. Any one of several methods is used for brewing the coffee fresh: the paper filter method in an electric coffee maker or stove-top glass cone. but simply referred to as eating. For the morning meal adults drink café au lait. It is unusual to mix salty and sweet flavors within a single dish. A rich. and likely described as eating sur le pouce (in a hurry). Another important feature of French meals is the distinction between savory and sweet. menus will group dishes into entrées. Although such substitutions are common. or a stove-top Moka device that forces water up through ground coffee by steam pressure. dense slice of foie gras cries out for a spoonful of sweettart currant or gooseberry preserve. lack of time. as one is refusing what is traditional and expected. People sometimes add a pinch of salt. Chinese. and desserts and vary the portions accordingly. many people. which is still present in miniature. Moroccan. Whether or not the practice coincides with eating custom in the country of origin of the food itself. replace the cheese course with a light alternative such as yogurt. heated milk poured with strong hot coffee into a hemispherical bowl. Such factors as cost. Durable combinations of flavors and textures are sought. pared down to a hearty composed salad as a main dish. Thai. BREAKFAST The petit déjeuner is light and simple. followed by cheese. Structuring the main meal in courses is both a typical practice and also an ideal for eating well. the whole thing accompanied by bread—the foods are nonetheless organized within the traditional structure. The expectations for a proper meal color perceptions of other forms of eating.

and at about 10:30 A. a few restaurants serve brunch. or Nutella to make a tartine. into their morning hot milk. any coffee drunk at other times of day is taken without milk. also called un petit café or un petit noir. or a piece of fruit such as an apple. The healthconscious add a glass of fruit juice or a serving of yogurt to their breakfast. fruit yogurt. is eaten along with the coffee. Processed cereals such as corn flakes or puffed rice eaten with cold milk are now popular enough that grocery stores stock them. break for la collation du matin. Restaurant-style machines for making coffee by steam pressure are available for use at home. although it is not considered a sustaining beverage. or it may be provided by the parents of each child for the whole class on a rotating schedule. It is the hot milk in the café au lait or café crème that is considered the nourishing part of the breakfast. Dunking the bread or pastry into the coffee is a beloved practice. Those who seek to avoid caffeine stir powdered roasted chicory root. but simply drink coffee or nothing at all and eat a regular lunch. A piece of bread. An effort is made to provide foods that are considered healthful and appropriate for the late morning: bread and cheese. people do not eat a large breakfast. including many of the American brands. the morning snack. such as a section of baguette spread with butter. pastry such as croissants or brioche (from yeasted dough enriched with butter) replaces plain bread.Typical Meals 107 cinnamon. MORNING SNACK Children begin the school day at 8:30 A. the small amount of food eaten for breakfast accompanies the café au lait. but le brunch is considered an exotic meal.M. Children drink hot chocolate. In recent years tea has become more popular. In cities. Un café. COFFEE BREAKS Working people and students take a break (une pause) in the morning or afternoon to drink small cups of strong coffee. with its pleasing dark brown color and nutty flavor.. honey. a small sandwich made of buttered bread with a slice of ham. jam. The depth and large diameter of the café au lait bowl are accommodating for this purpose. or a spoon of cocoa powder to the ground coffee to vary or balance the flavor. quite out of the ordinary. The snack is brought from home. and these are well liked by connoisseurs. After the breakfast café au lait. is served in a demi-tasse . On late weekend mornings. Alternatively. instant coffee such as Nescafé is dissolved by stirring into hot milk. For weekend breakfasts or a special treat.M.

so that a bit of leisure is built into the work day. cups of coffee can be purchased from vending machines that grind the beans and brew a fresh cup.M. such as a cold plate of sandwiches or charcuterie. with less water used relative to the amount of ground coffee. of course.M. schools are required to provide lunch for children whose parents both work or whose parents are unemployed but seeking work. Lunch at School Primary schools schedule the lunch break from about 11:30 A. there is some variation in these times across the country. Recent demographic and nutritional information has led to changed recommendations. however.M. friends. or until 2:00 P. made with more water. The small coffees are not seen as nourishing. that is.e. and at airports and highway rest stops. either prepared on the premises if there is a full kitchen facility. The break is long enough to allow for a relaxed meal and for socializing with colleagues. or at a more leisurely pace sitting at a table. a very small cup). the work day and school day extend relatively late into the afternoon. according to taste.. About 66 percent of primary school children take lunch at school. as food is.M. In a café. with schools scheduling a full two hours for the mid-day meal and pause and many businesses allowing a similar break. LUNCH Lunch is between noon and about 2 P.. public schools were required to provide half of the day’s nutritional requirements through the school lunch.. to 1:30 P.108 Food Culture in France (“half-cup. or family. By law emanating from the Ministry of Education. hot meal. or if the coffee is being made at home with a restaurantstyle machine. like businesses. At many businesses and high schools. Since the break is substantial. The few sips of strong coffee are considered outside the range of foods and meals. Starting in the early 1970s. or hired by the school from a catering company. so that their child qualifies to eat lunch at school. It is taken plain or with sugar. a coffee can be drunk standing up at a counter. to accommodate parents’ work schedules. This ruling was based on the assumption that children ate the main meal at home in the evening. In cafés. stronger and smaller. As of the . or allongé (“stretched out”). Schools.” i.M. and the school lunch was often extremely simple. but rather as revivifying. if the day ends at 5 P. have a cantine or cafeteria that provides a full. Both parents must provide proof of their employment status. it is common to specify a preference for coffee that is serré (dense). if one is in a hurry.

according to organization at the local level. School lunches vary in character and quality. children develop social and communication skills. following the current norm. however.3 In theory the school meal serves more than simply the nutritional needs of children and adolescents. and the need to balance nutritional concerns with commercial pressures. and bread. During the Semaine du goût. school lunches must provide 40 percent of daily nutritional needs. a meat or fish dish accompanied by cooked vegetables. The département or prefecture is in charge of organizing meals for secondary schools. A prevalent worry is how to promote milk and water over soft drinks and to ensure that children consume adequate fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid too much fat and sugar. In primary schools and nursery schools.Typical Meals 109 year 2000. they learn to understand and appreciate food. to what degree schools should cater to students unable to eat the standard fare because of religious background. The educational effort extends even to the adult population. At table. It also betrays concerns about the demise of national cultural identity in the era of Europeanization and . The school lunch is a topic of ongoing debate. it is assumed that the rest comes from breakfast (20 percent). Generally. which in turn assists in the development of a national identity and to maintain the culture. perceived as insufficiently knowledgeable in the culinary heritage of their own country. they learn principles for maintaining good health and understanding food safety. the municipal jurisdiction or city oversees lunch preparations. school lunch consists of an entrée of a salad or vegetable. official statements from the Ministry of Education have noted the importance of meals for education. underwrite the effort. and the regional authority takes on responsibility for high school meals. the annual Semaine du goût or Week of Taste held every October since 1991 represents another means of promoting culinary and gastronomic education in schools. a dessert.4 The establishment of the Week of Taste owes much to the corporate interests that. cooking. a snack (10 percent). restaurants offer traditional meals at reduced prices. Culinary Heritage in Schools If ideological concerns shape the school lunch. Professional chefs leave their restaurants to teach lessons about food.” how to eat a “proper” meal. In learning to eat balanced meals. In learning how to eat “well. and dinner (30 percent). At issue today are interest in organizing cantines to include local and regional foods. Since the early 1980s. Thus school meals are legislated as sites for taste education. along with the government. and eating in public secondary schools.

Lunch in a company cantine is relatively inexpensive. are a matter of education and should be accessible to all. salads. where employees eat lunch. wine and beer. universalistic idea. cooked vegetables. placing the dishes on a tray: bread. Lunch at Work Many businesses offer some sort of meal subsidy to employees as a benefit. The cultivation of taste and the pleasure of eating well. like reading and mathematics. as companies subsidize meals there. The cantine is generally set up cafeteria-style. Businesses of substantial enough size and nearly every large corporation have an in-house restaurant de l’entreprise (company restaurant). fruit. An employee may pay in the neighborhood of 3 to 5 Euros for a full meal in the cantine. Yet the Semaine du goût also manifests a democratic. yogurt. where the same meal would cost two to three times this price in a restaurant. Another way that businesses subsidize their employees’ . One selects the components of a full meal. Students are wearing the protective cleanroom garments that butchers put on when they break down carcasses. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. globalization.110 Food Culture in France Butchers wearing the asymmetrical aprons of their trade distribute samples of roast beef during a school taste class. commonly called the cantine (canteen). water and coffee. a hot main dish. cheese.

as children find the wait from lunch until dinner too long to tolerate comfortably. reestablish contact after the separation of the afternoon or entire day. and perhaps an apple. The snack is partially a matter of practical necessity. a yogurt. people bring lunch from home. a crushed soft fresh fruit such as an apricot or peach sprinkled with a bit of sugar and eaten on a piece of toast. To eat well (bien manger. The goûter is similar to the morning collation. To tempt the youthful sweet tooth there are any number of produits industriels (packaged or processed products). or in some areas as late as 5:00 or 6:00 P.. The voucher is used like a traveler’s check in restaurants. Eating when one is not hungry is seen as excessive. paying about 3 Euros for a coupon worth 5. return home. but is more likely to consist of something sweet: bread and a piece of chocolate or some Nutella. If no cantine is available. or to purchase food from the charcutier and in other food shops. at a traiteur or caterer’s to buy prepared food to take out. and a glass of fruit juice or milk. for example. a tartine. a piece of fruit that can be eaten out of hand. a piece of freshly baked pastry. and conversationally catch up on the day’s news. snacking in general is frowned on for adults. eating a variety of foods thought to be reasonably healthful. or take lunch in a restaurant. then sautéing in butter). or a pastry.Typical Meals 111 meals is through the ticket-restaurant.. pain perdu (French toast. nuts. or “lost” stale bread that is brought back to life by soaking in eggs and milk. Employees purchase coupons from their companies at a discount. High-school students and adults may take a coffee or a cup of tea in the late afternoon. timed to coincide with the end of the parents’ workday. Snacking versus Eating Well Beyond the collation and goûter given to children. or raisins). as one of several ways of eating poorly.M. At table people may . It is also a way for parents to welcome their children home after school.M. and eating in moderation. a tartine spread with jam or honey. from biscuits (plain butter cookies or the same thing covered with chocolate) and gâteaux (individual portions of sponge cake with chocolate) to Kinder (the brand name and generic moniker of chocolate covered wafers. Schools and the garderie (child care) usually let out at 4:30 P. manger correctement) or to eat “normally” (manger normalement) means sticking to the three main meals. AFTERNOON SNACK Every day children look forward to the goûter or afternoon snack that marks their return home from school.

whiskey. or snacking. Favorite appetizers include toasts or thin slices of bread with rillettes or rounds of sliced hard sausage. Children drink a sirop such as mint or barley syrup poured over ice and mixed with water. and gougères (baked cheese puffs). In summer. in recent years. Since the late eighteenth century. as if to excuse themselves even as they draw attention to the indulgence as exceptional. A typical weekday dinner might begin with a salad of grated carrots dressed with mustard vinaigrette. it is a welcome opening act to a full meal. Nonetheless. and finish with a green salad and a piece of cheese. but for more leisurely meals on weekends or holidays. Yet the term derives from gourmandise or gluttony. but the onus connected with it has not diminished. as well as for whetting the appetite. At home. such as steaks and chops. whether lunch or (more commonly) dinner. and grilling. one of the Seven Deadly Sins of the Catholic tradition. salt. as eating patterns change to accommodate long commutes and intensively scheduled work days. pastis. is enjoyed as an overture to conversation. the practice of snacking has increased. and mixed drinks are all standard apéritifs for adults. Many families . and for foodstuffs that respond well to these methods. a kir or sweet white wine such as Muscat or Monbazillac may be served chilled. the preference is for fast cooking methods. the apéritif or apéro often falls by the wayside. as well as fillets of firm-fleshed fish. Eating outside the setting of the large regular meals of lunch and dinner. WEEKDAY DINNER Busy schedules during the week contribute to the preference for dishes that are relatively quick and simple to prepare and to some abbreviation of the full sequence of courses. and pepper and served with some purée (mash) of broccoli or potatoes.112 Food Culture in France sociably announce as they help themselves to an extra serving of a wellliked dish. searing. Apéritif Drinking an apéritif or cocktail before a full meal. On busy weekdays. baked savory biscuits. gourmand. such as salmon and tuna. some combination of greed and pleasure. Some sort of food accompanies the apéritif. has meant a knowledgeable eater. such as sautéing. The word is significant. that they are eating par gourmandise. Bread is eaten throughout the meal to accompany each course. a small piece of pissaladière (Provençal pizza topped with caramelized onions). progress to a portion of sautéed onglet (similar to hangar steak) garnished with butter. even antisocial. like the later word gastronome. is seen as unnecessary. broiling.

and Sunday lunch is traditionally a meal taken with family. peanuts or cashews. peeled and sliced into rounds . are typical centerpieces for weekend meals. chips. small salted crackers.5 Veal Stew (Blanquette de veau) • 2 pounds shoulder of veal • 1 large onion • 5 sprigs parsley • 10 peppercorns (whole) • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 5 cloves garlic • 4 cups water • 12 pearl onions. Both are likely to be cooked and eaten at a leisurely pace and in a festive atmosphere. and a great deal of socializing takes place as everyone moves about the kitchen. or a chicken roasted on a bed of sliced onions and carrots. fish was eaten on Friday evenings for religious reasons. including browning the meat before adding the liquid. despite the name blanquette. It is also common to go out for a predinner drink with friends or family before moving on to dinner at a restaurant or returning home to eat. Weekend meals usually consist of the full range of courses and include a before-dinner drink. The dish has many variations. peeled • 5 carrots. WEEKEND MEALS: SATURDAY DINNER AND SUNDAY LUNCH On the weekend there is more time to create elaborate meals and use slower cooking methods and to linger over the meal with family and friends. A roast leg of lamb studded with slivers of garlic and rubbed with rosemary branches and served with baked white haricot beans. to stay at a second residence or to visit extended family. but this custom is hardly observed anymore. Many city dwellers will leave town for the day if not the whole weekend. The invitation to prendre un verre or prendre un pot (go out for a drink) is social and understood to mean a drink taken together before dinner. With a weekend party of family or friends. Saturday evening is often reserved for socializing with friends. Blanquette de veau or d’agneau (white veal or lamb stew) is a dish that people make at home in the spring and for Easter Sunday.Typical Meals 113 keep crunchy or salty foods on hand as appetizers to lay out in small bowls: olives. Some of the more elaborate dishes make large quantities of food that require a greater number of eaters to consume them. Historically. there are more hands to help out.

Place the veal. which adds to the sense of occasion. The flavorful broth is served as a first course. and pearl onions to a serving dish. sirloin. pork sausage. the meats are sliced and arranged on platters. and simmer 15 minutes more. cleaned and sliced. potatoes. The water should just cover the other ingredients. then pour it into the reduced broth. and steaks. A weekend meal often ends with a bought pastry such as a cake or fruit tart from a pâtissier. a slow-simmered poule-au-pot (stuffed chicken stewed with vegetables). Strain the broth. and served moistened with a bit of the cooking . then reduce heat and simmer gently for 60 minutes. Add the pearl onions and carrots. Enjoy the stew hot with rice or boiled potatoes. and tailbones (oxtail) or a marrow bone. then sautéed in butter Cut the veal into 2-inch pieces. It should not boil. then simmer until it reduces by about one-third. veal. carrots. onion. Pot-au-feu (“pot on the fire”) derives its flavor from the combination of three or more whole cuts of meat that are cooked together with a few vegetables and herbs. In the summer. Reduce the heat under the broth so it nearly stops simmering. which usually include a combination of fattier and leaner meats. Parsley or the selection of herbs called bouquet garni is added as well. A very large pot or multiple pots are required to hold the ingredients. Beat the eggs yolks and cream together. parsley. Stir a ladle of broth into the egg yolks and cream to temper the mixture. and water in a saucepan. or lamb. such as flank. Other traditional preparations having any number of regional variations include daube (beef stew). onions. Regional variations add other meats than beef. Bring to a boil. and leeks. preserved duck (confit de carnard). bacon. such as ham. outdoor barbecues are popular for weekend gatherings. Test to make sure the veal is tender. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat. then pour the sauce over the meat. celery. Arrange the cooked mushrooms on top as a garnish. Afterward. turnips. salt. peppercorns. garlic. and pot-au-feu (mixed boiled meats). Taste for seasoning. continuing to stir over very gentle heat until the sauce thickens. chicken. Vegetables added to the pot include carrots. for a main course consisting of grilled meats such as spicy merguez. Stir in the lemon juice.114 • • • • Food Culture in France 2 teaspoons lemon juice 2 large egg yolks 1/2 cup heavy cream 1/2 pound mushrooms.

Simple Onion Soup (Soupe à l’oignon) • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter • 6 cups coarsely chopped onion • 3 1/2 cups water or broth • 1/2 cup white wine • salt • pepper . and it is certainly a symbol for the successful middle-class lifestyle. cornichons (small sharp pickles). or sour condiments: mustard. a bottle or bottles of wine. Wine is considered an essential component of a good meal. The full sequence of courses will be carefully prepared and attention given to buy the best ingredients. coffee may be offered. or after a day of skiing during a winter vacation. there may be little extra ceremony. A hot soup such as onion is appreciated as a restorative at any hour of the night after going out. the specialty of a favorite late-night bistro. all stops are pulled for guests invited into the home. coarse sea salt. Although water is the most common beverage at the dinner table. Inevitably pot-au-feu gives leftovers that can be reheated for another meal or transformed into other dishes. people may make a very late meal at home or eat in one of the relatively few restaurants that keep late hours. In other cases. LATE SUPPERS After going out to the movies or the theatre. capers. pigs’ feet boiled then roasted to a golden brown in the oven. The extra effort is made out of respect for the guest but also to do honor to the hosts. as well as other alcohols. or a cold plate of local charcuterie. and so on that the hosts can afford. The same principle of balance that guides the choices of foods in a meal also applies to selecting pairings of wine and food. After the meal. cheeses. this is a treasured sign of intimacy. ENTERTAINING AT HOME: MEALS FOR GUESTS When close friends are invited to share the regular family meal. The tender. salty. and small glasses of after-dinner liqueurs. mild. will be selected in anticipation of having guests. such as a cold salad or a baked meat tourte. richly succulent meat is balanced with pungent. A late souper or supper may consist of nearly anything: a dish of pasta or a composed salad made at home.Typical Meals 115 broth. be it oysters on the half-shell. grated horseradish.

and simmer gently for 45 minutes.” Le Monde (October 20. 373–87 in Marc Jacobs and Peter Scholliers. Claude Grignon. eds. 197–225 in Maurice Aymard. melt the butter over low heat. La blanquette de veau: Histoire d’un plat bourgeois. la mode et le travail: La genèse social du modèle des repas français contemporain. “Parlons goût” and “À palais ouverts. 1993). place a crouton in the bottom of each soup bowl.. Serve bubbling hot. Brush the bread slices with olive oil. Raise the heat to medium to bring the mixture to a simmer. and Sabban. preferably a dense-crumbed. 5. 2000). “French turn up noses at their own food. Toward the end of cooking they should form a soft mass and be uniformly brown in color. Ladle on the onion broth. ladle the soup into individual ramekins or a tureen that can go in the oven. 3.” Le Monde (October 15. and Michele Aulagnon and Vincent Charbonnier. Add the water or broth and the wine. and bake about 10 minutes. Eating Out in Europe (Oxford: Berg. 275–323 in Aymard. emploi du temps et rythmes sociaux (Paris: Editions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme and INRA. 4. crusty variety • 1/4 cup olive oil • 3 cups Gruyère cheese. Adam Sage. Grignon. Jean-Louis Flandrin. stirring occasionally. “La quatrième édition de la semaine du goût. Le Temps de manger: Alimentation.116 Food Culture in France • 6 slices of day-old bread. 2. place on a baking sheet. For the croutons. and Françoise Sabban.” pp. Jean Claude Ribaut. Claude Grignon. “Eating at School in France: An Anthropological Analysis of the Dynamics and Issues Involved in Implementing Public Policy. Bake 20 minutes at 450° F to melt and brown the cheese. . 1993).” Le Monde (October 23. Uncover the pot. 2003). Jean-Louis Flandrin. To serve the soup. if you prefer. and sprinkle on the grated cheese to garnish.” The Times of London (October 14. Or. until golden. preface by Patrick Rambourg (Paris: Jean-Paul Rocher. preheat the oven to 350° F. 2002). Season to taste with salt and pepper. grated In a saucepan. Add the onions. cover. NOTES 1. 1994).” pp. eds. and cook for about 45 minutes.” pp. “La règle. “Les heures des repas en France avant le XIXe siècle. Isabelle Téchoueyres. 1994).. “La Semaine du goût.

especially in urban areas.7 billion meals in cafeterias and other collective settings and 4. and expenditure for food to be eaten at home fell by a full 7 percent. household spending on eating out increased . or one meal out every three days. At present. the lack of space and tools for cooking. Between 1970 and 1990. the average is 120 meals outside of the home yearly.1 In the past. Of these people ate 3. novelty establishments where the interest lies as much with atmosphere as with food. The current practice of taking meals in commercial restaurants is the result of affluence and the incursion of work into mealtime. and the practice is typical. An estimate from 2004 calculated 9 billion meals out taken annually. and the need for a public location to transact business motivated people to eat outside of the home. if not as quickly as in some affluent nations. Nonetheless. Restaurant offerings are varied. . the wish for social interaction. yet traditions of eating out go back centuries.25 percent. from fine restaurants gastronomiques to fast-food restaurants and chains. the trend to take meals outside of the home increases perceptibly in France. cuisines from other nations and cultures. such as the United Kingdom. The French do not eat outside of the home as frequently as residents of some nations with a comparable standard of living. and fast food and chains contribute to the restaurant scene.5 Eating Out Eating at home is the norm for most people on most days.6 billion in commercial restaurants. Traditional or regional bills of fare.

urban areas. boulangeries open up their storefronts to display squares of pizza and triangles of quiche. or from narrow windows and counters that open up directly onto the street. in particular. the whole richly The sign for Jean-Pierre Coumont’s ice-cream and sorbet in Saint Tropez (Var) indicates that they are hand-made by the sellers using pure fruits and no food colorings. Nutella. Niç ois socca is the delicate-textured. In parks. In the summer. never lack for food to tempt those on foot. and slices of hard boiled egg. nutty-flavored savory pancake made of chickpea flour that is served up blistering hot directly from a round griddle. In the cities of the South. Courtesy of Janine Depoil. purée de pommes (thick. crème de marrons (chestnut cream). Pizza can also be purchased from stationary trucks. tomato wedges. cold stands or trucks for ice cream are popular among children. black olives. the favorite sandwich is pan bagnat. jam-like apple sauce)—can be purchased in the street.118 Food Culture in France STREET FOODS Although it is not necessary for most people today to eat in the street. out of trucks. . baguette filled with tuna. Crêpes with a choice of fillings—sugar. Regions have their own specialties that vendors sell at stands. ice cream stores open windows that face onto the street so that one can line up for a cone. During the summer.

beer. RESTAURANTS. cafés and restaurants emerged during the early modern era. The interdiction is seen by many as an infringement on personal freedom. as one eats. the opening of Starbucks cafés has added a new variety of chain. Many cafés serve wine. usually baguette) and pastries such as croissants along with café crème. It may . flavored. whether small savory dishes or a selection of pastries. apple. They all serve coffee and some choice of soft drinks. read the paper. along with the possibility of taking away oversized paper cups of the American-style coffee made to any number of untraditional specifications: decaffeinated. alcohols. and fruit juices. however. Cafés may have an elegant. The fusty. During the cold months in the North. often they are simple and unpretentious. AND BRASSERIES Types of restaurants that emerged in the last quarter of the nineteenth century shape today’s culture of eating out. a lane for bowling running the length of the café. although levels of smoking are on the decline. Today there is little that is more typical than to sit in a café to talk with friends. one peels away the waxed paper wrapping that contains the juices. and tomato are usually on hand. nonsmokers are often seated right next to fumeurs (smokers). BISTROS. or skim milk. the barrier dividing the two being quite imaginary and certainly ineffective. or studious atmosphere. atmosphere in some cafés is typically enhanced by clouds of cigarette smoke. More commonly. vendors sell hot roasted or boiled chestnuts and paper cones of freshly toasted peanuts made crunchy with delicately caramelized sugar. CAFÉS As variations on earlier establishments. hot coffee mixed with heated milk. A more old-fashioned sort of café may have a football table for baby-foot. Cafés open early in the morning serve tartines (buttered bread. grungy. mixed with soy. whole. or a regular Sunday afternoon bingo game that neighborhood residents attend.Eating Out 119 laced with olive oil. syrups.2 In recent years. or comfortable. apricot. The habit of smoking sociably while drinking and even eating dies hard. chic. or simply watch people and the world go by. and some choice of food. Smoking in public places has been illegal since 1992. The latter may be freshly squeezed from citrus fruits such as oranges or lemons. one chooses a bottled juice. In practice. and restaurants and cafés are obliged to provide space for non-fumeurs. The term bistro (or bistrot) is thought to have appeared in the 1880s. Its etymology is unclear.

along with a limited menu. a contemporary brasserie is a café or a restaurant that serves drinks. although a recent trend that blurs this characteristic is for very chic restaurants to call themselves bistros. and baeckeoffe (a stew with thinly sliced peeled potatoes and a mixture of beef. increasing in number after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and the development of the train line linking Strasbourg to Paris. choucroute (sauerkraut). pork. flammekeuche (a thin crust like that of a pizza topped with caramelized onion and bits of bacon). then ended up running restaurants (including the famous Brasserie Lipp and the Café de Flore) and forming a tightly supportive community of regional expatriates based in the capital. The term bistro is now used throughout the country for a restaurant. and a brasserie was a brewery where one went primarily to drink beer. brasseries tend to stay open later than restaurants. A brasserie alsacienne serving food will offer Alsatian specialties such as cooked sausages. Because of the focus on drinking. or seared steak served with French fried potatoes on the side. There is a strong association to this term with a warm. especially bière à la pression (draft beer. steak tartare. Today. The term bistouille used in the North to mean a hearty mixture of brandy and hot coffee is a more likely source. few brasseries brew their own beer. Brasseries appeared during the Second Empire. moules marinières (mussels cooked in the shell in a light broth flavored with white wine). poire à la belle Hélène or a poached pear served with vanilla ice cream and decorated with chocolate sauce. roast chicken. Brasseries that offer literally hundreds of different bottled and draft beers are sometimes referred to as bars belges (Belgian bars). Since the late nineteenth century many Parisian bistros and cafés have been run by bougnats (from charbonnier. but standard popular items include such classics as oysters on the half-shell. charbougna in the Auvergnat patois). steak-frites. Historically.120 Food Culture in France derive from the injunction to hurry (bystra) up the food that Russians in Paris spoke to waiters. Brasser means to brew beer. . omelets. tarte Tatin (caramelized upside-down apple tart). comfortable. purée de pommes de terre (mashed potatoes). bistros have been restaurants that serve alcohols and a relatively small selection of foods for one-course meals. Rather. and lamb). The typical Parisian establishment also has its counterparts in the homey local places for other cities or regions. Many have a distinctly Germanic or Flemish flair. Some began selling wine. These natives of the Auvergne initially came to Paris to sell coal mined in their region. braised chicken or pintade (Guinea fowl) with tarragon sauce. such as the bouchon in Lyon and winstub in the Alsace region. coal burner or porter. Bistros and restaurants have their own specialties or regional inflections. unpretentious atmosphere. beer on tap) and sometimes hard cider. sole meunière.

the daily experience of eating outside the home has taken place in a collective setting such as an army mess hall or a cafeteria in school or at work. military doctors intervened. The turn of the century witnessed the spectacular collaborations between chef Auguste Escoffier and the enterprising Swiss hotelier César Ritz. and Biarritz. beans. Today. highend restaurants appeared in the grand hotels. where Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie regularly wintered. and dairy products on lean days. later perfected with cans. Buffets de la gare and cafés de la gare became fixtures in train stations. made fashionable other locations such as Cannes. eggs. the growth of tourism. soldiers ate meat. rice. Vivandiers. while sutlers tagged along behind to sell foodstuffs directly to soldiers. Nice. both private and military cooks and suppliers carried bread. good restaurants and the finest restaurants gastronomiques or restaurants gourmands are to be found all over the country. During the lengthy Wars of Religion in the sixteenth century. In the notoriously abysmal conditions of the First World War. Canned and jarred goods had met with a largely negative reaction throughout the nineteenth century. During the belle époque and by the start of the twentieth century. The pressing need to provision troops constantly on the move under Napoleon was answered by Nicolas Appert’s development of sterile jarring techniques. During the Middle Ages. Most soldiers subsisted primarily on soup and had to share mess kits. The diet varied with geography and the circumstances of the hosts who “offered” them bed and board. common soldiers in addition to mercenaries became more numerous in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Where waging war had long been the prerogative of the aristocracy. The late sixteenth century saw the organization of internal units whose task was specifically to provision troops. adding ratatouilles (which in this context signified meat stews or ragoûts. in the north and west of France. crusaders were quartered in the towns on their routes. not vegetable stew) a couple of times each week. Paris still had the lion’s share of elegant dining spots. and more variations on the restaurant theme. in fact a compulsory gesture. and bread. The new modes of transportation. MESS HALLS AND CAFETERIAS For many.Eating Out 121 The rise of trains and then automobiles encouraged travel. Restaurants serving regional specialties and located far from the capital came into fashion. appeared in the eighteenth century. or specialized army cooks.3 Now the . however. wine. Eventually. and soup through the labyrinth of trenches directly to the front line. in the countryside and in smaller towns as well as in the cities. substituting fish (including stockfisch).

34 percent at schools. educational institutions were run by the Church. the collèges instituted tables for 16 or 25 students in a salle commune. however. but rather to keep silent throughout the meal while listening to a theological reading. In some medieval collèges. progressive principles took their effects . to the detriment of the pupils’ palettes and stomachs. on the other. such as cabbage. The reformist. It is easy to overlook the central role that cantines—cafeterias in collective settings—have played in daily life for the last century. not to mention intellectual exchange. however. Eating out as a student has ever been a conundrum: one is poor and always hungry. whether of gruel. so that the student ate a home-cooked hot meal. Communication was reduced to a sign language specific to the table. People often have the mistaken impression that taking a meal in a cafeteria is somehow an exceptional practice. presumably was martyred at the table. Even in a wealthy school.5 Through the end of the nineteenth century. This is due to the prestige of fine dining and commercial restaurants. with much attention paid to fast days including the long month of Lent and every Friday. food in schools varied greatly. about 56 percent of meals taken outside the home are taken in an institutional cafeteria. and 26 percent at hospitals and services related to hospitals. the student’s life was sedentary. soup. the bursar might divert meal allowances to other purposes. cooking up miracles for French officers participating in the Franco-Prussian conflict of 1870. Through the early years of the Third Republic (1870–1940). with 40 percent of those meals at businesses. During the sixteenth century.6 The development of cafeterias owes to notions of equality traceable to the Revolution of 1789 and to the sense of secular social mission and conception of the public good that was cultivated during the Third and Fourth Republics.4 Most often school meals were vegetable soups. as there was little in the way of dietary standards or accountability. Officers fared better than their troops. or stew. For centuries. for instance to request the bread. on the one hand. rely more on cafeterias than any other nation in Europe. and the ideal of the family meal at home. As a result of the imposed silence and the exigencies of keeping one’s thoughts to sacred themes. the best-fed pupils were often those who could afford to bring a gamelle (metal lunch-pail) from home. conviviality. and bread. in contrast with the physically extenuating activities of the laborer. This could be placed on the stove for a few minutes at mid-day. The French. Today. as a young man Auguste Escoffier began his career in the field.122 Food Culture in France appearance of a jar of jam or a can of sardines boosted the morale of the beleaguered troops. One was not to cultivate the art of conversation. students were deprived of the morning meal.

albeit slowly. The public schools are administered by municipalities. such that companies may view maintaining cafeterias as an unnecessary expense. was conceived as social intervention on a national scale. Beginning in 1967. This automatically excluded at least one cafeteria meal from many schedules. Cooperative food stores for workers appeared in the late 1830s. liberal or capitalist economic practices have replaced some socialist and protectionist ones. and workers’ cooperative restaurants organized by trade date to 1848. a student must demonstrate the need for a school lunch with formal attestations that his or her parents work or are seeking work and are thus unavailable at mid-day to provide lunch at home. Schools had to balance issues of cost and efficiency with the wish to highlight typical regional dishes and the need to serve balanced and nutritious meals. companies that did not run cafeterias began to offer meal vouchers for use in commercial restaurants. If fewer than 25 employees wished to eat at work. their . Measuring in terms of the percentage of total meals taken in cafeterias. the Ferry Law mandated that a public school education be made available to all children. cafeterias are subject to lower levels of the TVA or taxe à la valeur ajoutée (VAT or value added tax) than applies to restaurants. Since the 1980s. the government encouraged schools to provide warm meals to needy students during the cold months of the school year. and this savings is passed on to workers. Cafeterias originated to provide a benefit to workers. however. Cafeterias took on a new importance in reestablishing the nation’s health and by extension its economic vitality. then. As cafeterias became common. did a law decree that companies having at least 25 employees who wished to eat at work must provide an eating area. With the allocation of school budgets for cafeterias came strong associations with local politics. Ironically. The cafeteria. however. Today. In 1881.Eating Out 123 in both schools and business settings. the practice of bringing food to school from home declined. As a practical proviso. After the Second World War and the associated problems of malnutrition. The cafeterias that now serve lunch in nearly every sizeable business grew out of the development of labor unions and codes of workers’ rights. As nonprofits. as an alternative benefit. it became a matter of necessity for students and workers to eat lunch at school or work. Thereafter an emendation required that this location be outfitted for reheating food. their use peaked in the late 1970s and has been declining.7 Not until 1913. The Aubry Law of 1998 reduced the workweek to a maximum of 35 hours for private companies having more than 20 employees. most students take the midday meal at school. there must at least be a designated space for doing so.

124 Food Culture in France presence on a company campus or in an office is sometimes now felt as a constraint. for festivals or holidays having parades and other outdoor events. The year of army service used to be obligatory for young men finishing their secondary education. EATING OUT AND THE CULINARY HERITAGE Interest in food as connected with particularities of place took on an especially clear definition in the twentieth century. The coveted third star indicates a menu of such quality that the restaurant is a worthy travel destination all by itself. The further distinctions of two and three stars appeared in the early 1930s. The title echoes that of the Tour de France bicycle race established in the late nineteenth century. the novelist Marcel Rouff and journalist and food writer Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Sailland) assembled the Tour de France Gastronomique published in 24 volumes between 1921 and 1928. Published travel accounts had been popular since the eighteenth century. a rating system for restaurants was introduced. with important consequences for eating out. Following seventeenth. A few years later and with a different . The rankings of the Guide Michelin (today called the Guide Rouge) are defined relative to the road. A single star indicates une très bonne table. The Michelin stars are still the most widely recognized. Concurrent to the establishment of the Michelin rating system. and there was much to know about the culinary subcultures within the country. the large companies are evolving by catering for sports matches and tournaments. if now also deeply controversial. of laurels for restaurants. and guidebooks such as the Guide Joanne circulated widely in the nineteenth century. the tire company Michelin. Two stars go to a restaurant that vaut le détour (is “worth the detour”) off of the main highway. the Guide Michelin soon came to mention food and wine specialties for each region. and the first descriptive restaurant guide published in the early nineteenth century.and eighteenth-century almanacs that listed boutiques and then restaurants. established a new Guide pour les chauffeurs et les vélocipédistes (Guide for Drivers and Cyclists) to promote the automobile tourism that would increase their profits. In response. a “very good” table in the elite category. in the form of a star to indicate a good table. and the comprehensive scope is suggestive. and also by providing branded items for companies. resulting in less use of military cafeterias. but mandatory conscription ended in 1997. In 1900. Gastronomic tourism was now established as a serious undertaking. for eating in the cafeteria keeps employees in the workplace and discourages lingering over lunch in a leisurely manner. In 1926. based in Clermont-Ferrand.

the gastronomic “treasury”). invests in the institutionalization of the culinary heritage and in the promotion of quality. food and food mores increasingly became the focus of legislation that sought to institutionalize cultural practice. and a place where riches are kept. The state. the Malraux Law of 1962 was further designed to encourage cultural activity across the nation. then. or principle worth preserving (here. During the second half of the twentieth century. printed roadmaps and posted signs on highways throughout the country indicate national Sites remarquables du goût (Taste Sites Worthy of Note) as attractions for travelers and tourists. in short. The state commissioned the publication of the Inventaire culinaire du patrimoine de la France (1992–1996).”8 During the next decade. a strong sense of appréciation or understanding combined with enjoyment. and it may be said to pursue a . The idea was to expose as many individuals as possible to the riches of French culture and to ensure the creation of artistic and intellectual works that would continue to enrich it. capital. as in the Plat du terroir (Terroir Dishes) initiative begun in 1985. the title is telling. and the conviction that government intervention is necessary to foster and protect culture. The charter for this undertaking noted the “incomparable” richness of France’s culinary cultures. These attitudes would soon be specifically extended to food culture. an initiative sponsored jointly by the state and various corporations began bringing chefs into schools for the annual fall Semaine du goût (Week of Taste) that gives children a practical course under professional supervision in eating traditional foods. Curnonsky published another work on the same topic entitled the Trésor gastronomique de la France (1933). In the 1950s. To avoid the usual Parisian bias. Underpinning the ministry and legislation was the deep respect for the past. an undiscovered or unexpected windfall (as in hidden treasure). note the fascination and bankability of the varied food and food customs of the entire country. as well as the sense of history. The document proclaimed the goal to acquaint not only visitors and foreigners but also French citizens themselves—who may be ignorant of their own culture—with aspects of the patrimoine and specifically with “the varied palette of our tables. a set of 22 volumes that take “culinary inventory” of the country by region. Again. One should. Since 1993.Eating Out 125 collaborator (Augustin Croze). His charge was to promote the héritage or patrimoine culturel (national cultural heritage). Charles de Gaulle appointed the novelist and diplomat André Malraux to head a new Ministère des affaires culturelles (Ministry of Cultural Affairs). as part of the economic and cultural rebuilding that followed the Second World War. Trésor means an investment. whether French or foreign nationals.

These practices are also carefully cultivated. identifiable. today the source of ongoing tension within the country and. the prevailing response is pride in the culture. For others. . During the 1990s. laws to protect health and safety. There is great sympathy for this gesture. the habitual practices and the self-consciously elaborated ones overlap and become closely intertwined.9 By this is meant the generic. and innovation. that passes for food. a site of culture if not historical preservation. creativity. highly processed “product” with no visible history or origin.126 Food Culture in France gastronomic and culinary policy. traditional. Eating dinner in a typical. and of the patrimoine culinaire derive from real social practices and attitudes whose cultivation and preservation enrich the texture of daily life. the tourist and export trades are notable beneficiaries. a sense of belonging and participation. can be felt to inhibit freedom. It does so through specific legislation that complements regulation against fraud. The notions of regional cuisine and local specialty. The restaurant is. For many people. These chefs called for a return to terroir and presumably to some sort of ideal state of absolute Frenchness. Inevitably. yet has a clear resonance. the sociologist Claude Fischler has named the alternative the OCNI: objet comestible non identifié or Unidentified Comestible Object. in the push and pull of daily life. the effort to identify foodstuffs and thus to render transparent the links in the food chain responds to the general sense that it is better to know exactly what one is eating. notoriously. and AOC products can take extreme forms. a group of prominent chefs published a manifesto protesting “alien” and “exotic” combinations of flavors and foods. The process of patrimonialisation. or identifying elements of culture as part of the heritage and then fulfilling the corresponding obligations to preserve them. and policies of agricultural protectionism. As a result. Chefs in elite restaurants (restaurants gastronomiques) may make special efforts to incorporate local and AOC items into their menus. or the sense of being compelled to live in a museum. or regional restaurant reifies and affirms one’s very Frenchness. authenticity in the culinary domain has become a more than usually vexed question. of terroir. Beyond the appreciation for what is fresh. and in a few cases invented. heavily commercialized. a feeling of alienation results. useful for business. The position is exaggerated. with other nations in the European Union and beyond. The appreciation for local. by association. Specialty producers such as fine wine makers have long appreciated and often instigated the demand for distinguishing marks of authenticity. Thanks to careful packaging and marketing. to serve commercial and political interests. With trenchant wit and insight.

Sampling a cuisine from another nation allows one to traverse continents simply by walking down the street. Busy work schedules make the option of being served dinner at the end of the day attractive.Eating Out 127 RESTAURANT RHYMES AND REASONS Few people today go out to eat because they lack facilities to cook at home. Courtesy of Arnold Matthews. Those traveling for business or having a long daily commute cannot eat at home. In a country where eating well is a passion shared by so many. Yet close friendships require time to develop. Restaurants and cafés are moreover much appreciated as settings for social interaction. Eating dinner weekly at a neighborhood bistro provides a sense of continuity and social connectedness. and the home is viewed as an intimate. Because of the longstanding customs of eating out and the pervasive culture of socializing outside the home. one may return repeatedly to a restaurant to enjoy a favorite création de la maison (house specialty) or to test the latest invention of a particular chef. Gregariousness and conviviality are characteristic social traits. Eating out with a new acquaintance or a friend allows social bonds to deepen in a neutral yet comfortable and inviting setting. private space. it is easy to find relatively inexpensive A typical Parisian brasserie with café-style tables for sitting outside. . The motivations lie elsewhere.

l’addition (the check) is not brought to the table right away. Currently the most common terms for eating and drinking establishments are restaurant. It is considered sociable to all drink the same thing and egotistical not to follow the general wishes of the group. It is assumed that people will take their time to eat. there is discussion as to the choice of wine.e. Whether in a fancy restaurant or in a local café or bistro. A selection of dishes is offered for each of two or three courses at a fixed price for the full meal. brasserie. so that the meal progresses according to a similar rhythm for everybody at the table. This is partially a matter of practicality. it is only in a café that one may order as little as a coffee (i. the sum is usually less than an à la carte total. this is also possible in some bistros and brasseries. and continue talking after the meal. the degree of involvement of personnel in food preparation and service. and so on. one requests the check from the waiter. many also serve beer and a selection of alcohols. After the meal.. and café. Especially in smaller restaurants.128 Food Culture in France places where one can eat a good meal in pleasant surroundings. eating out has rituals all its own. However. some cafés serve food. BARS AND WINE BARS Restaurants and most cafés serve wine. Legally. the various establishments may serve both food and alcoholic beverages. It is considered courteous to order a similar sequence as one’s dinner companions (i. In practice. A café-tabac marked with the carrotte (a red. serving coffee and drinks between and after meals. when one goes out. one goes to a “restaurant” to eat a full meal at noon or in the evening. These are often used interchangeably. restaurants must register the types of items to be served. the sale of beverages is regulated by licenses that specify a maximum allowed alcohol content per beverage. it is common to order what is referred to as a menu or formule. Of course. This would be viewed as quite rude. To serve food. With the appropriate licenses. On the other hand. enjoy the pauses between courses. only a beverage) and do so between meals. bistro. When one is ready to leave the restaurant. and most bistros and brasseries serve full meals. Similarly. people discuss what they are thinking of ordering and from which menu they will choose. bars are not particularly central to social .. although the beverage will more likely be a glass of wine or a beer.e. A café-restaurant stays open all day and perhaps into the late evening. Within families or groups of friends. diamond-shaped label reading tabac that is stuck on the window) is licensed to serve as a tobacconist and sells cigarettes. items from within the three-course menu choices). As a result.

as are madeleines.Eating Out 129 life for most people. the word bar owes its derivation to the French term (une barre de comptoir) for the foot-rest close to the floor near a counter where one stands to take a drink or to eat. Most tea shops have the distinctively French touch of the exquisite. 1913–1927). in large hotels. a new type of bar à vin or wine bar is in vogue. The focus here is on tasting wine. and sometimes in large restaurants. more women than men drink tea. beer. some plain black teas may be flavored from the addition of bergamot oil or extract of violet or rose. for the austere ritual elegance of Japanese customs of taking tea. Much like the specialized brasseries that serve many varieties of beer. by the highly educated. and drinks can be found in discos or nightclubs. choosing from a list of different kinds of leaves. Today. bars that are so called (un bar) serving only wine. Macaroons are well liked. which may be served in small portions in the style of Spanish tapas or Turkish mezes. Bars enjoyed a surge in popularity at the end of the nineteenth century. a slice of tart. and for the British tradition of high tea. the tea cakes having a scallop shape and that launched thousands of words. when alcohol was temporarily deregulated. takes a secondary role as an accompaniment to the wine. The complement for tea is a pastry. Madeleines • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder • pinch salt . but they declined as an institution during the Vichy period. Among tea drinkers there is much admiration for the variety of Asian and Indian teas. Food. Today. the wine bar offers a broad selection of bottles and is designed for sampling good wines. and the ambience is fairly sophisticated. and by the health-conscious or those seeking to avoid the larger amounts of caffeine in coffee. Nonetheless. Dipping one in a fragrant glass of lime (linden) tea. and alcohols during the evening hours. Some cafés that remain open late at night function then as bars de nuit and tend to serve almost exclusively wine. the author Marcel Proust was overwhelmed with strong memories of his childhood and proceeded to write the lengthy semiautobiographical novel À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Time Past. One orders a small pot of tea. tea is drunk by a few anglophiles. TEA SHOPS Salons de thé (tea rooms) are few in number but enjoy a faithful clientele. beer. A selection of tisanes or herbal infusions is usually available as well. With the recent fashion for drinking high-quality wines. or one of the more refined forms of cookie.

gradually add the granulated sugar. “EXOTIC” RESTAURANTS AND GLOBAL CUISINES The terms exotique (exotic) and sometimes éthnique (ethnic) are used for any kind of food. is not typically referred to as exotique. then stir in the melted butter. With additional melted butter. and familiarity with a variety of foods as a result of travel and the global market. and set aside. and salt. Remove the cookies from the pans. The use of these terms reflects the longstanding expectation that integration into French society is effected through assimilation into the culture. and they are often applied to foreign cuisines associated with immigrants. or restaurant cuisine that is not traditionally French. North African couscous. traditional regional . A specialist in the sociology and anthropology of consumption points out that for some. the sense of the exotic varies according to perspective. the large population of citizens and residents whose national or ethnic origins are not French makes the use of a term such as exotique unclear.130 • • • • Food Culture in France 3 large eggs 2/3 cup granulated sugar 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter. It ranks just behind steak-frites (steak and French fried potatoes) and gigot d’agneau (roast leg of lamb) as a familiar. reliable favorite. make the term even more confusing. melted and allowed to cool Note: Madeleines are baked in special forms that give them their distinctive shape. lightly brush the madeleine pans. cooking. lemony yellow. Sift together the flour. Add the lemon zest. At present. Indeed. Continue beating until the mixture doubles in volume. Makes about 3 dozen. Spoon in the batter. Gradually fold in the flour mixture. While continuing to beat the eggs. and let them cool on a wire rack. couscous is perceived as an everyday food. assimilation has also worked in the other direction or not at all. Preheat the oven to 350° F. familiar since the mid-twentieth century through the presence of immigrants from former colonies. however. Changes in eating habits as a result of dietary concerns and issues of convenience. filling each shell to two-thirds full. Bake for 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the fat part of the little cakes comes clean. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl until they are fluffy and turn a pale. Clearly. whether of French or other national origin. baking powder. Add the vanilla.

as well as cities. by and large undistinguished. thin-crusted pizzas taken as a main course dish. and Burkina.11 FAST-FOOD AND RESTAURANT CHAINS The rapid expansion of fast-food and chain restaurants began in the 1960s. Greek and Turkish restaurants are often informal. plat. in particular Columbia and Brazil. They usually serve Cantonese and Hong Kong–style foods and organize menus according to the French sequence of entrée. and Vietnamese restaurants date to the independence of the respective colonies and protectorates. in the Turkish restaurants. These are working-class cafés operated and frequented by immigrants from Senegal. and Mauritania who came to France starting in the 1960s and 1970s. because they are not an accustomed part of the daily diet. Tunisian. Typical. are cafés sahéliens. to include Tibetan food and the cuisines of South American nations. Indian restaurants and Japanese restaurants that mainly serve sushi rather than cooked dishes are found in the large cities.10 It is useful to remember that foods such as tomatoes and potatoes that are now typical and essential in the regional cuisines are not native to French territory or even to Europe. Moroccan. to which most French eaters are not accustomed. British or Irish pubs and Tex-Mex restaurants can be found in the large cities and in some university towns. Cameroon. the nuances of Ottoman cuisine are hardly in evidence. this is not apparent in the restaurants. Italian restaurants in France tend to specialize in pasta dishes and to serve individual. and the practice . Restaurants serving cuisines from outside the French territory are reasonably popular. Lebanese. Thai restaurants are a relatively new addition and usually have carefully annotated menus to warn against spicy dishes. and dessert. Recently. Mali. sophistication. and also by populations from Congo. Although the complexity.Eating Out 131 dishes such as cassoulet or cuisses de grenouilles (frogs’ legs) are quite exotic. Chinese restaurants are quite familiar in suburban areas and small towns. new imports have further expanded the choices especially in the larger cities. variety. and rich history of the Chinese regional and provincial cuisines are comparable to those of France. These establishments are distinguished by a formulaic list of choices. the use of industrially prepared ingredients. having open counters that double as kebab and sandwich stands. Varieties of North African restaurants and tea houses are relatively common and sometimes quite refined. The establishment of Algerian. if practically unknown beyond the reaches of the urban working-class neighborhoods where they are found.

the restaurants were not popular. Restaurants dating to the 1960s such as the Courtepaille chain found in roadside service areas on the national highways serve full. fast food restaurants are ubiquitous. chains represented 2. a parody of the industrialist Jacques Borel. freeze-dried. these eating establishments flourish. enjoy mixed success. The largest share of the market is divided between two American concerns. and there were no real cooks. such as Quick and Flunch. Despite the culture of gastronomy and despite widely publicized and occasionally violent protests against the fast food restaurants. In the restaurant. Following the principles borrowed from the United States of Frederick Taylor and Henry Ford. and assembly.13 The use of industrially prepared foods in cuisine d’assemblage has penetrated to many traditional commercial restaurants and has led to hybrids.14 but one that has French imitators such as Speed Rabbit Pizza. Initially. but accounted for 20 percent of sales. The goal is to create products of consistent quality and that vary as little as possible from one outlet or franchise to the next. The impact and initial strangeness of the phenomenon to French eaters can be measured in Claude Zidi’s film L’Aile ou la cuisse (1976).132 Food Culture in France of a highly rationalized cuisine d’assemblage (“assembly cooking” rather than preparing food from scratch. Pizza Hut and Dominos. Ingredients have been industrially processed and prepared. Fast-food pizza. on the principle that one will want to eat a decent meal as a break from a long trip. the cooking processes are broken down into simple procedures that are standardized and designed for maximum efficiency. As of 1998. There are numerous French chains and fast food restaurants. is a late-blooming phenomenon. Livraison à domicile (delivery) for pizza. founder of the hospitality firm now called Accor. and the service is efficient. cooking (or heating). they undergo final stages of preparation. introduced by the American chains. The dishes are based on preassembled ingredients. Today. the success of individual franchises varies by region and adaptation to the local population.5 percent of commercial restaurants. with some adjustments to the menu including the availability of wine and beer. . with just under one for every eight traditional cafés or restaurants. as the service was brusque and impersonal or else one had to serve oneself at a counter. three-course meals with traditional menus. and vacuum packed.12 One researcher points out that this may be in part precisely because the fast-food chain restaurants allow one to flaunt conventions of good taste and eating well. American chains including McDonald’s began opening stores in France in the early 1970s. from raw ingredients). or pizzeria chains.

Eating Out 133 Readying cooked carrots and peas for service. The noun is manufactured from the English words “food” and “feeling.” The awkwardness of the word well conveys the extremely unusual nature of these restaurants. a fine dining establishment. to one’s personal experience and reactions. whether in a cafeteria. a term coined by two journalists in 1999. quality. to one’s emotional . in an eating culture that has long privileged tradition. or a fast food restaurant. Nova magazine has been publishing a guide to fooding. As if taking Barthes’s observation for advice. A degree of standardization is essential in nearly any professional kitchen. LE FOODING AND NOVELTY RESTAURANTS The semiologist and astute interpreter of culture Roland Barthes observed that food can be a situation or an event. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. a small but growing number of restaurants have turned to creating establishments whose primary attraction is a nontraditional ambience of one sort or another. and norms. Notable is the effort to translate the primary appeal of the new establishments to one’s individual sensations. For the last few years.

Its categories include restaus that are gay. adding an extra dimension of enjoyment. such as in the mountains. Eating outside is felt to offer a break from the routine and doing so gives even a simple. Favorites include roasted or rotisserie chickens. workers such as agricultural laborers often had to eat outdoors. during the summer. as an inexpensive mode of taking a vacation. Cooking outside usually involves grilling or barbecuing fresh sausages and merguez. near a river. or on the ocean. picnics may be quite elaborate affairs. A picnic may be an impromptu lunch consisting of no more than a jambon-beurre (slice of ham in buttered baguette) eaten outdoors. Rather. Alternatively. as much as eating the food. as is camping. or perhaps some variety of fusion food. a shady glade. The guide to fooding does not rate for price and quality according to the recognized grids of classical cuisine and mid–twentieth century nouvelle cuisine. picnics in parks are popular. Terrace or courtyard tables are selling points for restaurants and cafés during mild weather. An unobstructed view of the sky and a fresh breeze on the face are thought to enhance the meal. eating outside or in an attractive natural setting is a matter of choice. In the preindustrial era.15 Now. or that serve a “world food” cuisine. Le fooding appeals in particular to younger people open to seeking a social experience or the experience of a place for its own sake. could make a party by having tables set up in a meadow. it lists nontraditional restaurants in categories that have more to do with personal identity or lifestyle. The interest here is ambience and novelty. People who have gardens or terraces set up tables even in tiny spaces. Other portable picnic foods are made in advance or bought already prepared. EATING OUTSIDE The French love to eat outdoors. or a landscaped garden. the association with an outdoor meal stabilized only in the mid-twentieth century.134 Food Culture in France state. for the pleasure of being able to manger au dehors (eat outside). bio-végét (biologique-végétarien or organic and vegetarian). Outdoor meals have a special appeal given that the contemporary lifestyle is primarily urban and that jobs keep people indoors and relatively sedentary. Today. The aristocratic classes. manger en pique-nique (to eat picnic style) meant pooling money to share the expense of an improvised meal. especially in the middle and upper classes. on the other hand. Extensive coordination and planning are required to unite large numbers of family members and friends in natural locations considered to be beautiful and offering good air to breathe and an attractive view to admire. In the seventeenth century. . everyday meal a festive feeling.

1990). 1997). eds. 6. one can usually buy frites and meat kebabs served in a piece of baguette as a sandwich. and Dominique Desjeux. Sylvie-Anne Mériot. trans.” Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine (January-March 1997): 40–67. Sandrine Blanchard. eds. 7. Yves Delaporte. apricots.” pp.. 281–306 in Isabelle Garabuau-Moussaoui. Les Ouvriers de Paris au XIXe siècle (Paris: Christian. 115–16. and Marc Renard. L’Esprit des lieux (Grenoble: Presses Universitaires de Grenoble. 8. 47. Julia Csergo. thé à la menthe (mint tea). regard des sourds (Nantes: Siloë. Bruno Laurioux. “Les Français consomment moins d’alcool et de tabac. Gestes des moines.Eating Out 135 hard sausages to be sliced and eaten with chunks of bread. 2002). heavily frequented Mediterranean beaches. . and beignets or round jam-filled doughnuts covered with glinting granulated sugar. NOTES 1. “‘Un sacrifice de plus à demander au soldat:’ L’armée et l’introduction de la boîte de conserve dans l’alimentation française. glaces (ice cream). 4. fin XVIIIe-XXe siècle. juice.” Le Monde (March 9.” pp. 5. Fabrice Laroulandière. flats of summer fruits in season such as peaches. 1997). 36. café chaud (hot coffee). L’Homnivore (Paris: Odile Jacob. 2005). Elise Palomares. 183–93 in Daniel J. Alimentations contemporaines (Paris: L’Harmattan. usually bottles of mineral water. or cherries.. 158. “The Ash May Finally Be Falling from the Gauloise. Isabelle Garabuau-Moussaoui. Manger au Moyen Âge (Paris: Hachette. “L’exotique est-il quotidien? Dynamiques de l’exotique et générations. During the summer on the hot. Aude de Saint-Loup. Martin Breugel. and bottles of wine and mineral water. baskets. vendors stroll up and down musically chanting the wares they carry on flat trays: boissons fraîches (cool drinks. 2. 1810–1920. There are also vendors for choux-choux or peanuts made crunchy with a praline coating. “La constitution de la spécialité gastronomique comme objet patrimonial en France. and soda). Nostalgic Cooks: Another French Paradox. 10. Mériot. 9. 3. 2002). Grange and Dominique Poulot. These items will be carefully packed and carried to the ideal spot in backpacks. 2006).” Revue historique 596 (October-December 1995): 260–83 and “Du temps annuel au temps quotidien: la conserve appertisée à la conquête du marché. and coolers. with the popular option of getting the fries right in the sandwich. From stands set up at the edge of the beach. 209. 1997). Claude Fischler. 2006) and John Tagliabue. Trevor Cox and Chanelle Paul (Leiden and Boston: Brill.” The New York Times (September 8. bags.

139–59 in Marc Jacobs and Peter Scholliers. eds.” pp. “The Picnic in Nineteenth-Century France. and Desjeux. April 1999). . Boutboul and A. 123–41 in Garabuau-Moussaoui. “Esquisse de la fonction sociale de McDonald’s à partir d’une étude éthnographique. Lacourtiade. 2003). Sylvia Sanchez. Julia Csergo. “ ‘La pizza dans le pays des autres. Palomares.” pp. and Desjeux.’ ” pp. Palomares. B. “Cafés sahéliens de Paris: Stratégies de ‘gestions du ventre’ dans un espace de manducation. 145–71 in Garabuau-Moussaoui. Eating Out in Europe (Oxford: Berg. Olivier Badot. 13. Pascal Hug. 14. 2.136 Food Culture in France 11. Palomares.. and Desjeux. 83–121 in Garabuau-Moussaoui. 15.” pp. “Étude chaînes 1998” (Paris: GIRA-SIC Conseil. 12.

and enjoyment that so many people bring every day to cooking and eating bring a bit of holiday reverence and revelry to nearly any meal. and most people celebrate them in a secular fashion. such as Christmas (December 24–25). Of the 11 days mandated as federal holidays.6 Special Occasions The care. RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS The holidays having a religious origin and that are observed by the greatest number of people in France derive from the Catholic liturgical calendar. These holidays are now feasts. sustains family relationships. A holiday atmosphere certainly prevails for the Sunday lunch with family and at the dinner party given on a Friday or Saturday evening for a few close friends. on a daily basis. That said. a few are secular commemorations such as Bastille Day (July 14). The rest. Within families and circles of friends. most people today celebrate holidays such as Noël (Christmas). observed on December 24 with the next day a holiday . derive from Catholic religious observances historically connected with fasting. there is a strong emphasis on celebrating personal days such as birthdays. are simply fun. interest. but it is also recognized that participation in shared festivities socializes children. of course. and ensures the integration of individuals into communities. Parties. This is typical savoir-vivre (knowing how to live well) applied at the table. Since the 1990s a trend to revive traditional agricultural and regional celebrations has served to affirm local identity and preserve the sense of history.

and shrimp set out for the first course of the Christmas meal. December 24 was a fasting day in the Catholic calendar. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. Through the Platters of raw oysters and steamed mussels. stockfisch (dried cod) for modest tables. and the former fasts have become secular feasts. or turbot for the wealthy were typical. especially salmon. The family celebration is a treat much anticipated by children. . From the ecclesiastical requirement for a lean meal. One broke the fast at the réveillon (late meal after mass. Abstinence from all food was in principle required until after the midnight mass. as well as the festive foods and gifts. but no meat. to wake up) with fish. clams. People refer to the Christmas Eve meal as le gros souper (the big dinner). Almost nothing is more typical than drinking sparkling wine for festive occasions. in a secular fashion.138 Food Culture in France from work. baked or roasted salmon. from réveiller. and Champagne accompanies dessert. who like the sapin or tree decorated with lights that is mounted in the living room. and grains. Roasted turkey stuffed with chestnuts is a standard main course. although the tradition is of recent vintage. is now eaten throughout the year. Oysters and foie gras are favorite appetizers. Fish. Good wines are saved for the occasion. vegetables. The old lean dishes are thus replaced on the holiday table by festive foods that suggest prosperity but are now within reach of many wallets. and because of seasonal availability.

careful cultivation and scientific modes of production made sparkling wines more plentiful. as presents. the Christmas meal finishes with a bûche de Noël or cake in the shape of the fruit-wood Yule log that was placed on the fire as a symbol of plenty. Those who do attend the midnight service on Christmas Eve often divide up the meal. aïoli (garlicky mayonnaise) or anchoïade (anchovies pounded with bread crumbs. Since the late nineteenth century. and oranges and nuts. The carbonation was not sought (nor added by the monk Dom Perignon. and children now expect toys. rolled. and . The cake for the bûche starts as a flat rectangle made from a light batter containing eggs but little or no butter. a sprinkling of powdered sugar to suggest snow. Chocolate shavings resembling tree bark. In Provence. baked meringue toadstools. marzipan confections. Sparkling wines can be made wherever wine grapes are grown. as well as alcohol. bicycles. As in the United States. In the spring. producing carbon dioxide. olive oil. chemical changes resumed with warm weather.Special Occasions 139 end of the eighteenth century. but it is common to order one from a pâtissier. but the greatest prestige attaches to the finest bottles from the Champagne region. Nicholas’s Day the traditional gifts were pains d’épices or spice bread flavored with honey. whose aptitude as a vintner is mythical) but was rather the result of a happy accident in wine-making.1 Cold weather halted fermentation of the sugars before it was complete. cloves. electronic games. Children put out their shoes near a fireplace or a crèche (nativity scene) in the hopes that they will be filled with gifts. Snails. and regional specialties such as the Germanic Christollen (Stollen)—a dry. fruit pastes. and so on. foods for Christmas Eve dinner may still reflect the regional staples and the custom of eating a repas maigre or meatless lean meal. and cinnamon. For this reason the old tradition of giving gifts to children for la Saint-Nicolas (the feast of St. on December 6) has been somewhat eclipsed. salt cod. The adventurous make their own bûches. Christmas is heavily commercialized. Clever marketing transformed Champagne into an essential feature of important celebrations. Nicholas. saving only cake and wine for the réveillon after mass. patron saint of children. and lemon juice) with artichoke hearts. During the nineteenth century. buttery yeasted cake studded with candied fruits and decorated with powdered sugar eaten in Alsace—and Spéculoos (spice cookies of Flemish origin) common in Picardie and Pas-de-Calais. sparkling wine was rare and drunk by the very wealthy. The baked sponge is spread with a jam glaze. then frosted with chocolate butter-cream. For St. Other winter desserts that appear around Christmas and New Year’s are chocolate truffles. and a few holly leaves imaginatively transform the cake into a log plucked from the woods.

thought to symbolize the 12 months of the year plus the petit mois (little month) composed of the 12 days from Christmas to Epiphany. aged Cantal. Another explanation matches a dessert each to Christ and the 12 apostles. . Either vin cuit (wine with macerated fruit such as oranges) or chilled sweet wine accompanies the selection of desserts: fresh fruits such as oranges. The Provençal Christmas meal concludes with 13 desserts. bay leaf. and cook for 10 minutes. salt to taste. or Parmesan Crush the garlic with your hand or with the side of a knife and peel it. sage. lightly grilled or toasted • 3/4 cup of grated hard cheese such as Gruyère. Put the garlic. water. place a slice of toasted bread in the bottom of each soup bowl. Garlic Soup (Aïgo-boulido) • 8 cloves garlic • 5 cups water • 1 sprig fresh sage • 1 bay leaf • 4 tablespoons olive oil • salt • 3 very fresh egg yolks • pepper • 4 slices of bread. Grind fresh black pepper to taste onto the soup. or apples. The meal often begins with a simple. slice it in half lengthwise and remove the green germ. Pour a ladleful of the boiled broth and garlic mixture onto the eggs and whisk together. Pour in the olive oil. then pour on the rest of the broth. using the tip of a knife. In the bottom of a soup tureen or large serving bowl. Turn off the heat. flavorful aïgo-boulido (Occitan for “boiled water. just to mix. gently beat the egg yolks with a wooden spoon. To serve.140 Food Culture in France winter vegetables including chard and cardoons figure on the Christmas table. Bring the mixture to the boil. sprinkling it on top of the bread. and water in a pot. Ladle on the soup and serve piping hot.” actually a far more tasty garlic soup). If the garlic is at all dry. The soup is also recommended as a cure-all for colds and aches and as a soothing restorative in case of gastronomic excess or hangover at any time of year. Divide the cheese among the four bowls. tangerines.

mix in 1 cup of the flour to make a smooth batter. sprinkle on a bit of additional flour. hazelnuts. Place the bowl in a warm spot in your kitchen. gibassier. stir the flour into the liquids. Christmas Bread (Pompe à l’huile. up to 24 hours. figs. and the sponge from the previous day. Pompe de Noël) • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast • 1 cup lukewarm water • 5 cups bread flour • 1 teaspoon salt • 1/2 cup sugar • grated zest of 1 orange • 3 tablespoons orange flower water • 6 tablespoons olive oil In a medium-size mixing bowl. dates. mix 3 cups flour. candied almonds. as necessary. confections such as candied chestnuts. sugar. and light and dark nougats with nuts. incorporating it gradually first from the center and then from the edge of the bowl. As you knead. and knead for a few minutes until the dough is smoothly elastic and no longer sticky. Form the kneaded dough into a ball. An indispensable element is the plain pompe à l’huile. Lightly flour a work surface. until the mixture is fairly uniform. Using a wire whisk. almonds. . until doubled in volume. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. then pour in the orange flower water.” a description that is not inaccurate. With a pun it also literally means “oil pump. and orange zest together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Using a spatula or wooden spoon. if the dough is sticky. Let the sponge batter sit overnight. The name pompe à l’huile for the festive bread evokes the pomp and circumstance of the holiday celebration. Place it back in the mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel. turn the dough out from the bowl. sugar and lemon peel. stir together the yeast and warm water. olive oil. and allow to rise for about 2 hours. and pastries such as spinach tart made with olive oil or butter.Special Occasions 141 dried fruits and nuts such as raisins. a lightly sweetened bread enriched with olive oil and flavored with orange flower water or anise. A whole melon carefully candied in syrup over two weeks at the end of summer may appear as the crown jewel of the holiday sweet spread. The next day. or a lightly sweetened chard tart. or fougasse. salt. and walnuts.

so that the disks are about 1/2-inch thick. whole almond. and noisy bibbers chose a king from among their own numbers. Cut parallel lines into the dough about 1/4-inch deep and at intervals of 1 inch. If necessary. Throughout January. In the South. then place the disks two by two on the sheets. Epiphany occasioned festival debauchery. round disk. Cool completely on wire racks before eating. Use a clean razor blade or very thin. and leave for the final rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. pointed knife to score the surface of the breads in a checkerboard pattern. turn over. People eat several galettes through the course of the month with family groups and with friends. and divide it into four. The simplest version is plain flat puff pastry glazed with egg. . Lightly grease two baking sheets. Use your hands to flatten. January 6 is given as a holiday. bring the breads whole to the table and break off square chunks where they are scored. Cover the breads with towels. then make perpendicular cuts. Today. the youngest child in the room gets to hide under the table and to ask the question: Who will be the king? The evening requires having a gilt cardboard couronne (crown) in reserve.142 Food Culture in France Punch the dough down. customs for Epiphany are now largely secular and family-oriented. A fève (dried bean). To mark the day people eat the galette des Rois or gâteau des Rois (“kings’ cake” or Twelfth Night pastry). It is a quiet family gathering or a good excuse to get together with friends for a more relaxed evening than the rigorous celebrations of the preceding couple of weeks. thick almond custard is usually spread between two layers of puff paste. Makes four loaves about 8 inches in diameter. As with most holidays. they will sound hollow if you tap the bottom with your fingers. or porcelain trinket is tucked into the paste or dough before it is baked. bakeries supply galette to the steady stream of buyers. until golden brown and crusty. and pull the dough. While the cake is being served. Near the winter solstice. When they are done. To serve. shaping each piece into a flat. use a rolling pin to flatten the dough. A lightly sweetened. sharp. then turn it out of the bowl onto the work surface. Épiphanie or la fête des Rois commemorates the manifestation (épiphanie) of the infant Jesus to the Magi. The person whose piece of pastry contains the fève—referred to as such even if the object is not a bean—is crowned king or queen. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400° F. the galette can be a yeastleavened pain brioché or dough enriched with eggs and also butter. which is in the shape of a crown. This is baked into a round disk or a ring whose center is filled with cherries or prunes.

For months beforehand. Through the mid-twentieth century. people eat rich desserts made with milk and eggs. pancakes. i. This was done by observing animals in their lairs. large prairie mushrooms. Beignets (doughnuts). to see whether they showed any signs of emerging from hibernation. people went to church to have a candle blessed. In rural areas. with the characters slinging rotten crab apples. so the cookies puff out while baking. little ceremony outside of regular family meal customs marks the day. almond shapes that are scored down the middle. The dough is patted into large. and fresh cheeses. which was accompanied by showers of flower petals. and fowl against the fish and vegetables. sometimes violent play and the disguises for Carnival made free with the usual social order.Special Occasions 143 Rich pancakes and pastries feature in the end-of-winter holidays that preceded the Lenten fast in the Catholic calendar.e. and plenty of butter or oil. bugnes or oreillettes (knotted or twisted strips of dough that are fried). and the ritual battle between Carnaval and Carême—or standoff between the Fat and the Lean—was a big food fight pitting sausages. Carnival included the ludic selection of a king and queen who presided over a Feast of Fools. Carnival parades and processions were often quite elaborate. shaped as their name suggests. Crêpes are traditional for la Chandeleur (Candlemas or Candle Festival) observed on February 2. The celebration in Nice was especially famous. not only rich foods but also an orgiastic period of revelry directly preceded Lent. The medieval fable Aucassin et Nicolette (ca. festival aristocracy that mocked the exclusions based on bloodlines long key to privilege in the everyday world. people prepared floats and masks for the festive procession. In the port city of Marseille. spread with jam such as apricot or cherry. In recollection of the presentation of Christ in the temple and the purification of the Virgin Mary. people eat golden-brown butter cookies called navettes (boats). and crêpes are typical. Carnaval (from the Latin carnem levare. February 2 was also the day for attempting to predict how long winter weather would continue. ending with mardi gras. Social theorists and historians have observed that turning le monde à l’envers (the world upside-down) through festivals such as Carnival doubtless released tensions that might . the candle was lighted at auspicious moments during the rest of year for good luck. enlever les viandes or to take away meats) lasted the weekend or entire week.. For mardi gras (Fat or Shrove Tuesday). Today. meats. the last day before the start of Carême (Lent) on mercredi saint (Ash Wednesday). 1225) has a mild version in a topsy-turvy carnival atmosphere. The commoner king and queen were an invented. fat. or filled with a purée of fresh fruit. Historically.2 The wild. The crêpes are eaten rolled up with a bit of sugar.

foie gras. The extraordinary scenes of parades and costumes. and few people observe the old Lenten dietary restrictions. a roast beef. and people set off noisy pétards (firecrackers) and light sparklers. la fête de l’Armistice commemorating the armistice of 1918. chickens. Today. The 40 lean days anticipating Easter recall Christ’s fast in the desert and struggle against diabolical temptation. The period also resonates with the 40 days of the flood. traditionally closed the harvest season and marked the end of agricultural work for the year. and so on. is as likely to be in people’s thoughts. la fête de Saint-Sylvestre or New Year’s Eve is usually spent with friends. eating and drinking. Hard boiled eggs are put in salads and baked whole in dishes finished in the oven. people enjoy the rich desserts on Fat Tuesday. the 40 years of the reign of King David. NEW YEAR’S If Christmas and the winter religious holidays are spent with family. eggs are mixed up into omelets. Pâques (Easter). However. a ham. Municipal feux d’artifices (fireworks) are common. roasted or stewed kid goat. marking the resurrection of Christ and symbolized by a spring lamb. with its paid holidays and personal celebrations. a roast goose or turkey. eggs. The réveillon (late meal) usually lasts at least until midnight. blanquette d’agneau (white stew made with lamb). on Corsica and in some southern cities. with a thanksgiving meal of roast goose and new wine. Children receive chocolates and candies in the shape of fish. la Saint-Martin. Carnival has declined to the status of a minor tourist attraction.144 Food Culture in France otherwise manifest in a much more destructive fashion. or. After Carnival one was probably only too glad to withdraw into the asceticism of the sainte quarantaine or Carême (from the Latin quadragesima or fortieth day). and rabbits to suggest life and seasonal renewal. with many of the festive foods typical for Christmas: oysters. They also show just how big the blowout was. and some eat fish on Ash Wednesday and on Lenten Fridays. November 11. On the jour de l’An . is celebrated with roast lamb. In today’s secular. much less for the full 40 days. in the pictures of the Niç ois artist Gustav-Adolf Mossa suggest the months of careful preparation that went into Carnival. and they enrich breads and cakes such as the rich pain de Pâques (Easter bread) from the Vendée called alise pacaude. The meal is as elegant as possible. democratic society. the federal holiday on the same day. when corks pop and people drink a glass of Champagne to bring in the New Year. in the Old Testament.

sugar has been used to coat spices for comfits and nuts for dragées. profiteroles or round pastry puffs filled with vanilla custard. and other people whom one sees throughout the year. the godparents. In the early nineteenth century. Carême insisted that all parts be edible. understood as symbols of fecundity. but imaginative pâtissiers also make puff pastry swans. and close friends. the chef Marie-Antoine Carême. Distributing sachets of dragées (from the Greek tragêmata. merchants. The classic pastry set piece is the conical croquembouche (“crunches in the mouth”). PERSONAL EVENTS Even among the large population of nonbelievers. friends exchange étrennes or little gifts to inaugurate the coming year. The festive pastry set pieces. Choux fourrés. The cone shape is always considered appropriate and attractive. cars. but who are outside the close circles of family and friends. The showy desserts—tours de force that required a large kitchen staff and luxury ingredients including sugar—were status symbols that accrued prestige to the host. and so on. They are fairly costly and almost always ordered from a baker. treated in his illustrated books Le pâtissier royal parisien (1815) and Le pâtissier pittoresque (1815 and 1854). Essential for both occasions and also for weddings are a pièce montée and dragées. Today the pièce . The pastry tower is drizzled with caramel that hardens to a shiny gleam and adds texture contrast.Special Occasions 145 (New Year’s Day). the parents offer a festive lunch or dinner to family members. The Greeks and Romans ate honey-coated nuts. The pièce montée or pastry “set piece” is a carefully constructed dessert designed to dazzle the eyes as well as the palate. sweetmeats) or sugar-coated almonds as favors to guests at weddings and baptisms is a custom with ancient roots. it is fairly common to observe the sacramental rituals of church christenings for babies and first communions for older children. which can then be filled with cream. Medieval apothecaries distributed honey-coated spices such as coriander and fennel as medicinal breath fresheners and aids to digestion. flowers. After the church ceremonies. Since the Renaissance. a holiday from work. can be traced to the aristocratic tables of the medieval and renaissance eras. January 1 is also the day for tipping mail carriers. Now a pièce montée made out of puff pastry is an integral element to middle class and upper middle class celebrations. Even for the most complex design. along with sugar sculptures. such as an elegantly realized shady grotto or neoclassical façade. are layered and stacked up (montés) into a tall pyramid. who first trained as a pâtissier and was fascinated by architecture. found great play for his creativity in the pièce montée.

montée is often decorated with a few dragées. There are meetings with florists and caterers to plan the decorations and meals. with fish and then meat). entrée. and cheese. Anniversaries. also traditionally a religious sacrament. glasses. but is on the scope of a banquet. Dessert is . usually white or silver for a wedding or baptism. roasted monkfish. The wedding meal is designed according to the couples’ tastes. Formal invitations must be printed and sent. In either case. are today usually secular family occasions. people sign up for the listes de mariage (registry) to orchestrate the gifts that are given. Marriages. middle class and upper middle class wedding parties are carefully choreographed affairs that may involve a weekend-long party and great expense. plat (or sometimes two. salad. Cocktails. Apéritifs. Communions. A site for the party must be found and rented. Business Meals. even for a so-called menu champêtre (rustic or country menu). boned and stuffed fowl such as Guinea hen or capon. as in the United States.” Courtesy of Janine Depoil. Inaugurations. Wedding foods tend to be high-status items that are presented as elegantly as possible. Banquets. A series of four or five or six courses includes potage. with the most common requests being new sets of plates. Buffets. The couple chooses rings. Weddings. Although most couples live together before marrying and have fully functioning households. and cutlery along with additions for the kitchen. lobster.146 Food Culture in France Caterer Farnier’s shop window in Blanzy advertises cooking for “All Receptions: Family Meals. Baptisms. Menus often include foie gras. The bride selects a gown.

For children. a civil alliance available both to heterosexual and to homosexual couples. when the majorité was lowered from 21. The cake is brought to the table studded with lit candles that the birthday person tries to blow out in one great breath. Avoided by many parents because of the sugar content. such as a white or chocolate cake with chocolate icing. stuffed tomatoes. The birthday cake is usually a plain cake that will appeal to children. but give large parties for important milestones such as the 25th and 50th anniversaries. the favorite foods of the birthday person often figure on the menu. perhaps with a romantic dinner out. After a funeral. although some couples choose a gâteau à étages or layer cake. BIRTHDAYS Before the 1950s. Since 1999. Adults give their own birthday parties. or croque-monsieur (hot ham sandwiches pressed flat in an iron) may be offered first. and there is strong social pressure to stage parties for friends and family. parties to celebrate personal relationships assume many forms. About 30 percent of children are born outside of wedlock. Couples celebrate anniversaries with each other. sometimes the parents decide to marry later on. who reciprocate by giving gifts.Special Occasions 147 the obligatory coupe de Champagne and spectacular pièce montée. Sparkling apple juice called champomi (from Champagne and pomme for “apple champagne”) is also popular. individuals quietly observed their name days according to the Catholic calendar with its commemorations of the deaths and ascensions of the various saints. others marry through the PACS or pacte civil de solidarité. It is quite common for couples to live together without marrying and to start families. Since 1974. the regular afternoon snack. along with other children. to an evening party given at the home that already has been established. In addition to full-on weddings. Family members and the child’s godparents attend. crêpes garnished with an egg or piece of ham. from a gathering of friends and family at a favorite restaurant. Some marry at the local town hall but forego the religious celebration and traditional wedding. the bereaved family traditionally offers a collation or luncheon to their guests. soft drinks are considered a great treat by children. Entertaining savories such as oeufs durs farcis (stuffed hard-cooked eggs). the eighteenth . For the family meal. Now the Anglo-Saxon custom of celebrating one’s own anniversaire or jour annniversaire (birthday) prevails. and they are served for the exceptional occasion of the birthday. and all bring a gift. afternoon parties announced with written invitations enlarge on the four o’clock goûter.

may be the occasion for a cocktail. whose name borrows from the American cocktail party. with speeches and toasts to accompany the lifting of glasses. or a gathering of business partners and colleagues. and drink alcoholic beverages legally. Older teenagers are usually quite accustomed to drinking small amounts of wine as a part of the family meal and alcohols in the form of an apéritif. ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS To mark achievements at school and work. Other important birthdays are the 25th. people invite colleagues and teachers. family and friends. At business or academic conferences. for the quarter-century. The 60th birthday often coincides with a retirement party.148 Food Culture in France Carrying the birthday cake from kitchen into dining room. Courtesy of Nadine Leick. A vernissage or gallery opening. a vin d’honneur. rather than a rite of passage. At 18 one can vote. birthday marks the passage into adulthood. drive. an occasion to celebrate an entire career. a vin d’honneur . Since the 1970s. to a ceremonial apéritif or pot (drink). takes place at weddings before the dinner. The right to purchase alcohol at age 18 is essentially a formality. and then the decade markers.

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may be drunk in tribute to an important speaker or guest, with canapés (light appetizers) to accompany the glass of wine, Champagne, or kir, before dinner. The verb arroser means “to water” or “to sprinkle” and by metaphorical, argotic extension to celebrate with a drink. A person who has just passed an important examination, defended a doctoral thesis, or even bought a new car invites family and friends to an arrosage.

People who have just moved into a new house or apartment invite guests to pendre la crémaillère. The phrase recalls the ceremony of hanging a rack or trammel in the chimney to hold the stock-pot over the fire. This done, one could cook, making the house inhabitable. People usually give parties with a buffet for the pendaison de la crémaillère, both to inaugurate the new place, and to make family and friends feel welcome. Foods are selected according to personal taste and the ease with which they can be served and then eaten from small plates as people circulate around the party. Common buffet items include platters of artfully arranged crudités or charcuterie, bouchées de fromage or savory baked puffs filled with a bit of cheese, salads of greens or grated carrots, hachis parmentier or shepherd’s pie, slices of roast beef served at room temperature, a stew such as a southern daube or North African tagine, fruit salad, wedges of apple tart, and slices of quatre quarts (pound cake) or chocolate cake.

Le Quatorze juillet, or le jour de la Bastille (July 14), is the national holiday commemorating the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris at the start of the Revolution of 1789. Only a handful of prisoners were found, but the riot symbolized release from the oppressive shackles of the ancien régime social and political orders. Bastille Day brings tremendous collective celebrations. Cities and towns organize fireworks, défilés (parades), and outdoor concerts and dancing. The immense Paris parade is always televised. Other spectacular events include the fireworks off the picturesque Pont d’Avignon, which dramatically breaks off halfway across the Rhône River. Families and community groups such as volunteer firemen, military veterans, and hunting clubs set up the outdoor barbecue for une grillade, a mixed grill that might include merguez, steaks, and lamb chops. For fun, people improvise foods with the bleu blanc rouge (blue, white, and red) of the flag: cocktails made with layers of strawberry syrup on the bottom, and then mixed vodka and anisette, and finally Curaç ao; scallops


Food Culture in France

garnished with reddish-orange salmon eggs to be served on a bright blue plate; and desserts of blueberries, fruits rouges (raspberries, strawberries, cherries), and cream or fromage blanc. Since the 1980s, events now staged annually such as Youth Day, Gay Pride (also called Euro-Pride or la Marche des fiertés), and the Techno Parade have the proportions and feelings of civic festivals, with parades, music, and plenty of eating, drinking, and revelry out of doors. As in many countries, sporting events such as soccer matches—a national passion— the Tour de France bicycle race, and marathons similarly offer something of the collective holiday experience.

In recent years a great effort has been made to continue or revive traditional regional and agricultural celebrations. Most villages and small towns have a fête votive, fête patronale, fête du pays, or kermesse celebrating the town’s patron saint. The festivals usually take place during the warm months, from May through October. They are fixed to a Sunday closest to the saint’s day, and last a weekend or three days. The festivals often were tied to a communal activity for farming, such as planting, harvesting, or threshing, and many have ancient pagan roots. Today, there is great appreciation for the fêtes votives and also fêtes folkloriques, as they are thought to preserve and teach about local customs including dress, regional styles of dancing, and gastronomic specialties. For a fête patronale or other local occasion, a special mass may be observed in the town church, and vendors set up outdoor markets and flea markets in the main street or square. Other festivals revived largely since the early 1990s are the May and December fêtes de la transhumance. It was customary to drive cows, sheep, and goats up to high ground for summer grazing. The descent back down to lower meadows and plains then followed the harvests. Today, trucks usually move the cattle, but the transhumance festivals are popular again especially in the late fall, when local cheeses made with the summer’s rich milk can be sold. The fêtes des vendanges or des moissons or d’abondance were feasts offered to harvesters to thank them for their work and celebrate the year’s bounty. New versions commemorate the old agricultural calendar and artisanal methods of work. The festivals are of great historical interest and are good for tourism. In recent years, they have also become vehicles for a certain revivalist, nationalist sentiment nostalgic for la vieille France; “old” here means Catholic France.

Special Occasions


Demonstrating the mechanics of a wine press, in Grimaud. Courtesy of Janine Depoil.

On a larger scale, city or regional fêtes are often associated with a special cultural practice, although some of these are of modern vintage. Highlights of the festivals vary according to region. In Nîmes there is bull-fighting, although the bull is never killed, as in Spain. The international film festival takes place each May at Cannes, the theater festival in July in Avignon, and operas are staged throughout the summer in the Roman theatre at Orange. Organized on the model of these cultural festivals, newer fêtes gourmandes organized to promote the patrimoine have flourished in recent years. Local restaurateurs, producers, and the municipal authorities collaborate to stage fairs that focus on local produce, from chestnuts to wine. Manifestations gastronomiques or gastronomic events take many forms, such as a tournée des restaurants where people make the rounds of participating restaurants to sample local dishes. Foires (fairs) have a carnival atmosphere like that of an amusement park. Foires or fêtes foraines formerly were associated with yearly outdoor markets (marchés forains) visited by itinerant merchants and traders. Today, the foires are heavily commercialized. Itinerant carnival workers set up lotteries, games, and rides. Vendors sell grilled merguez placed lengthwise in a piece of baguette, barbes à papa (“dad’s beard” i.e., spun sugar cotton


Food Culture in France

Alain Gontard’s restaurant in La Pacaudière announces an “open table” as part of the local gastronomic festival. The restaurant specializes in duck cookery including foie gras de canard. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact.

candy), nougats, spice bread, waffles, guimauves (marshmallows), and the adored chichi, a long, flat beignet made of yeast dough flavored with orangeflower water and sprinkled with granulated sugar. The mercantile aspect of the old foires is recalled in today’s salons and expositions for producers of wine and brandies. These can be quite fancy affairs with a busy boutique atmosphere. Their attraction is increased by the fact that an invitation card is required for entry and tasting.

Since the 1990s, American customs associated with Halloween on October 31 have been heavily commercialized, and Halloween is now quite popular among children. Adults have had mixed reactions, finding the macabre emphasis on ghosts and skeletons unappealing, but children love wearing costumes and masks, carving citrouilles (pumpkins), and receiving sweets. Halloween celebrations have for the moment overshadowed la Toussaint (All Saints’ Day, November 1), a traditional religious holiday, today one of the federal holidays.

28–9. Guy. and the fête des Mères (Mother’s Day). 2.Special Occasions 153 Also modeled after American counterparts are the fête des Pères (Father’s Day). These days are celebrated with a festive family meal. Jean Dufournet (Paris: Flammarion. “Il avoient aportés/des fromage[s] fres assés/et puns de bos waumonés/et grans canpegneus canpés. Kolleen M.” Aucassin et Nicolette (ca. 1225). canto 31. When Champagne Became French: Wine and the Making of a National Identity (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. ed. 2003). The other spouse and the children offer gifts and either do the cooking or treat everybody to an evening out. . the last Sunday in May. NOTES 1. instituted in 1949 as the third Sunday in June. 1984).


or cheese. milk. the modern lifestyle. while contributing to the quality of life that is so highly valued. At present. legumes. meat consumption increased substantially during the nineteenth century. bread. Problems related to overconsumption. Across economic classes.7 Diet and Health Abundance and variety have characterized the diet in France since the end of the Second World War. but prices fluctuated and the best cuts were quite expensive. and contemporary agricultural and manufacturing practices also create dietary dilemmas. such as obesity. For some. and vegetables from the kitchen garden had been the building blocks of daily meals. BALANCE. As in other affluent nations. the widely felt need for precautionary and protective measures shapes the response to matters of diet and health. grignotage (snacking) replaces or augments the cycle of three daily meals. AND PLEASURE The variety of foods that is now available to the broadest swathe of the population has not always been a feature of the diet. MODERATION. In rural areas. the French associate taking the full three-course meal with a sense of well-being and with being in good health. however. although meat consumption varied by region. Genetically modified foods and agribusiness practices are perceived as threats to a healthy diet. In cities. abundance. are on the rise. Animal protein was likely to be in the form of eggs. The structured family meal provides nutritional balance and conditions daily eating for most people. During the .

and life expectancy dropped drastically during the Vichy years. Culinary quality and sensual appreciation of food are essential to the perception that one is eating well. on the other. and information about health benefits associated with unsaturated vegetable oils and the Mediterranean diet. The view that wine is healthful has not disappeared. Eating a variety of fresh foods is more generally understood as key to une bonne nutrition or une alimentation saine (good nutrition. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables are eaten. In 1962.200 calories per day by 1943. the European Union began giving massive subventions to French grain. including raw salads and crudités. Using PAC funds. and fresh and aged cheeses are very important. hunger and diseases that result from dietary deficiencies had not been eradicated. Affluence and modernization associated with the Trente glorieuses or Thirty Glorious Years of rebuilding after the war resulted in significant changes. and grains made the earlier shortages and fluctuations a thing of the past. The use of butter. Today the centerpiece of most middle class meals in France is meat. dairy products. Bread retains a strong symbolic importance. farmers sent their best meat and dairy products off to the German Reich. which has been heavily marketed as a healthy way to “eat milk. Nutrition is only part of the recipe. Conviviality and social connection. charcuterie. and vegetable oils used to vary largely by region. and variety is precisely what characterizes the full meal with its complement of three or four different dishes. pork. At present. animal fats such as lard and goose fat.156 Food Culture in France Occupation of the 1940s. but consumption has declined in favor of animal proteins and fresh produce. Overproduction and a reliable. Rationing at home allowed for only 1. and beef farmers. eggs. however. Wine was long viewed as a healthy. rates of alcoholism and diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver were high through the mid-twentieth century. but consumption of wine has declined. strengthening beverage and in this sense was seen as quite distinct from distilled alcohols. or fowl. the broad preference for cooking with vegetable oils such as sunflower oil stems from their lower prices. As recently as the mid-twentieth century. a diet that is healthy). are equally necessary . Yogurt.1 The benefits of eating the full three-course family meal are thought of in a holistic fashion. whether beef. The purpose of the assistance was to guarantee a stable food supply. Dairy products.” is popular. Despite this perception. on the one hand. dairy. eating in the company of friends or family. lamb. including milk. The American practices of counting calories and weighing portions would seem quite strange to most people. farmers adopted modern industrial techniques. inexpensive supply of beef. under the PAC or Politique agricole commune (CAP or Common Agricultural Policy).

THE FRENCH PARADOX In the late 1980s and early 1990s. People use the terms équilibre (balance). and the British. northern Europeans. such as cheeses and butter. such as determining the relatively small portion sizes for individual components of a meal. yet lower mortality rates from cardiovascular and coronary diseases.2 Spending time at table and taking pleasure in eating are as important as what is eaten. regularly drank wine and ate all sorts of foods rich in animal fats. Similarly.Diet and Health 157 ingredients. . Relative to Americans. The very lowest rates of coronary disease were measured in the southwestern Languedoc region. cannot be discounted. and plaisir (enjoyment) to name the salient features of eating well and harmonieuses (harmonious) to describe the ensemble of practices that go into eating well. famous for foie gras and rib-sticking cassoulet. The French. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. which received extensive coverage in the media. they had comparable or higher cholesterol levels. the respite from the activities of the day imposed by the slow rhythm of the full meal. it was observed. American and French researchers identified a phenomenon they named the French Paradox. The sense of pleasure and balance guide the practical aspects of cooking and serving daily meals. the baked meat and Enjoying a good meal and a glass of wine with friends contributes to quality of life and good health à la française. modération (moderation).

People spend more time at table for meals. tend to prevent one from eating too much. Mealtime is strongly associated with relaxation. but rather as an enhanced state of health and femininity. then. for instance. At the same time. Doctors discourage women from putting on too much extra weight during pregnancy. yet they eat less. was a people eating a dangerously delicious diet. and legumes. and enjoyment. Nearly universal access to high quality health care through the national sécurité sociale (social security) and emphasis on preventive care contribute to the health of the population.3 Here. How was this contradiction to be explained? Various answers have been proposed to explain the so-called paradox. and 10 weeks of paid maternity leave from their jobs. The French diet is varied.) Each of these elements in the diet and lifestyle plays a role in maintaining health. Compared with their American equivalents. however. Pregnancy is not seen as an infirmity. stores. Midwives commonly deliver babies. and wine. portion sizes in restaurants. Mineral waters with a high magnesium content are useful against the common problem of constipation. strong envies (cravings). including a minimum of five required prenatal visits to the doctor. grains. lacking trace minerals) water as possible. Beyond the constant admonition to drink as much plain “pure” (i. Making minor adjustments to the diet in response to the changing state of the body during pregnancy is recommended. in addition to meats. BIRTH. cheese. yet enjoying good health. vegetables. moderation in all things is recommended. AND BREASTFEEDING Women expecting babies are notorious for having sudden. The health insurance system guarantees women prenatal care. PREGNANCY. In case of any complication.. and recipes are small. socializing. Other factors are important.4 Physical activities such as walking have a larger place in people’s daily routines. but a régime équilibré (balanced diet) is the order of the day. a hospital stay that lasts four to five days under normal circumstances at the time of the birth. (Lifespan for women is more than 83 years. few cut these items out of . as well. as this is seen as self-indulgent and quite unnecessary. a doctor is called. Moderate consumption of wine or other alcohols can play a role in counteracting the effects of cholesterol. The rituals of serving and sharing food and of politeness such as finishing up at about the same time as one’s table companions. It includes relatively high proportions of fruits. Most women reduce the amount of coffee and wine during pregnancy to avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol. homes.e.158 Food Culture in France bean stew that is generously enriched with goose or duck fat. the longest in Europe.

The attitude toward feeding infants is practical. At three months. At about three to four months. and eventually . and tiny quantities of meat or fish: first viande blanche or white meats (chicken. such as flowers and bottles of Champagne. because in France they bring the risk of toxoplasmosis. who take their meals a bit later. boiling. At the same time. To continue to breast-feed an infant after three months may also be impractical if the mother must return to work after the 10-week paid maternity leave. In this case. in addition to breast milk or formula. there is little stigma attached to choosing against breastfeeding. babies are offered purées de fruits. These are strictly déconseillés (recommended against). then beef. At about six months. The exception is raw salads and raw vegetables that cannot be peeled. honey. a greater variety of vegetable purées are proposed. BABIES AND CHILDREN Initiating children into the rites of the table is essential to their education. people buy petits pots (jars of baby food) or make food at home. It is widely felt that to extend breastfeeding any longer is unseemly. as if to do so might hold back the infant in the earliest stages of development. continuing to sip a café au lait in the morning. If the mother does not want to or cannot. and health. and perhaps a small glass of wine with dinner. There is also a good deal of generalized social pressure to stop at this point. if it continues to appeal. and doctors recommend that they stop at three months. naturally. then cooked puréed vegetables. About half of women breast-feed their babies. relying on the simplest cooking methods that avoid the use of fats. socialization. it is thought that there is no use asking her to act à contrecoeur (against her wishes). there is recourse to the wide variety of formulas for infants in every stage of development. yogurt and fromage blanc. and poaching. veal) and poisson blanc or maigre or white fish that is low in fat (sole. As the baby begins to eat solid food. The birth of the child is. in addition to useful items for the baby. Family and friends visiting the new mother and child after they have left the maternité (maternity ward or room) bring gifts for the mother. available in the supermarchés. the baby has received the essential nutrients and antibodies from the mother. It is recognized that breastfeeding a newborn is highly beneficial to the child. such as steaming. hake). an occasion for celebration. cod. a more extreme approach is perceived as fanatical. Babies and very young children often eat separately from the parents. Except in the case of a specific health problem or intolerance. then cereals such as semolina and rice.Diet and Health 159 their diet entirely. such as clothing.


Food Culture in France

ham. At about nine months or so, children are offered bread, then eggs. At about one year, fattier fish such as sardines, tuna, and salmon may be incorporated into the diet, along with raw vegetable such as peeled grated carrots and cooked dried legumes such as lentils and haricots. By about a year to 15 months, when the baby can drink cow’s milk, it is thought that the child can eat a full variety of solid foods. The strong dietary prohibitions for babies are against added salt and sugar, foods that are too fatty or strong in flavor, and foods that present extra risks of bacteria or allergens: no pork, horsemeat, game, shellfish, fried foods, peanuts, or spices, and no sweets. To young children (ages three to six years) parents give simple foods seen as easy to digest and appealing to the still-developing palette. The classic child’s meal begins with a potage (soup) made of vegetables boiled in lightly salted water or plain broth, then passed through a moulinette (food mill) or puréed with the hand-held mixeur-plongeant. Potatoes, broccoli, turnips, leeks, spinach, carrots, pumpkin, and artichokes are common soup ingredients. A bit of pasta may be cooked in the soup and a spoon of grated Gruyère added for garnish. Jambon-coquillettes is a favorite children’s meal: boiled pasta such as small shells or elbow macaroni with a bit of butter and mild grated cheese and a slice of jambon blanc (fresh ham, more meaty and less salty than the aged hams). Meat, especially red meat, and beef in particular, is considered important, as it is thought to donner des forces (build strength). It is recommended that children eat meat once each day, and parents enjoin their child to Mange ta viande! (“Eat your meat!”). Small children eat meat that is thoroughly cooked; older children are taught to appreciate beef that is saignant (“bloody,” i.e., rare), as adults do. Butchers grind to order children’s portions of steak haché (ground or chopped beef), which is then loosely patted into a flat oval shape to be pan fried. Escalopes de poulet (chicken cutlets) sautéed in butter or oil are popular. Vegetable purées, enriched with a little milk and a tiny quantity of butter, are essential preparations, along with bread to accompany everything. Food for children is ideally to be nutritious, tasty, and well textured. Soft foods, too many sweets, and too much sugar are avoided. Sodas are viewed as empty calories and are frowned upon. The same is true of fruit juices, seen as overly sugary, and a poor substitute for fresh fruit. In the morning, children are given hot milk or hot chocolate. Later in the day they may drink tisanes (herbal infusions) but no coffee or tea. Older children are expected to sit at table with adults, to eat the same foods that adults are eating, and to be polite and sociable. There is great concern among parents and at the level of the state to inculcate good eating habits in children. Parents want to raise healthy

Diet and Health


children who enjoy a good quality of life and who are equipped to be socially integrated. The state is concerned with public health, as it regulates the health care system and has the economic vitality of the country in mind. In secondary schools, the annual fall Semaine du goût and other initiatives teach children about the country’s culinary heritage and simultaneously present alternatives to la mal bouffe (“bad grub”). Beginning in the 1970s, the term mal bouffe or malbouffe was used to mean fast food and junk food. Now it can refer to any food considered unhealthy, an unbalanced diet, an unreflecting mode of eating. As part of the effort to protect the health of children by encouraging good eating habits, the state has forbidden the sale of soft drinks and candies in secondary schools and mandated that lessons on nutrition and health be incorporated into the national curriculum. Similarly, the state regulates television advertising, seen as exerting a nefarious influence on children’s health and eating and consumer habits. At present, for instance, commercials cannot occupy more than 12 minutes to the hour on television, and televised publicity for tobacco and for beverages containing more than 1.2 percent alcohol is forbidden.5

When care of the seriously ill still was given at home and predominantly by family members, household manuals and most cookbooks included a section with recipes for the treatment of the invalide (invalid or sick person). Today, “pectoral” broths and home remedies such as chest plasters have disappeared, in favor of the modern commercial pharmaceuticals that professional doctors prescribe. There remains little concept of specific foods appropriate for the ill; rather, adjustments are made to the diet overall. As in the United States, serious conditions are addressed with radical changes, such as a lowprotein diet in the case of kidney problems. In a nation of wine-drinkers, the crise de foie (“liver crisis”) was a classic complaint, extensible to nearly any malaise. Today, of course, avoiding alcohol is recommended against the more specific problems of cirrhosis or enzyme imbalance. There is, similarly, little conception of a special diet for the troisième and quatrième âges (third and fourth ages, i.e., retirement and old age: people ages 60 and older and 75 and older, respectively) outside of reducing portions to suit lower activity levels and a slower metabolism. For the minor, day-to-day complaints, smaller adjustments are made. In case of bouffissures or gonflements (swelling resulting from water retention), an effort is made to reduce the intake of wine, coffee, and


Food Culture in France

salty and rich foods such as cheese. For temporary illness affecting the appetite, light and easily digested foods are recommended. Against gastric ills, plain boiled rice and cooked carrots form the menu, and doctors recommend that one avoid green vegetables and salads, until the illness has passed. Purée de pommes (apple sauce) may also be given, as well as broths or light soups. Mineral waters high in magnesium, salads, fresh fruits and vegetables, even a drink of pastis may be taken to improve digestion, and plain yogurt eaten to soothe the stomach and encourage beneficial intestinal flora. Tisanes or herbal infusions are enjoyed as after-dinner hot drinks or before bed, but they are also thought to have specific useful properties: rose hips against colds, chamomile to soothe the stomach, linden as a calming tea before bed. An after-dinner drink such as a Cognac or other fruit brandy is referred to as a digestif (digestive). The small shot of strong alcohol is thought to settle the stomach after a rich or large meal and to promote digestion. Knowledge of the medicinal properties of foods and notions of regulating health through diet are traceable to antiquity. The holistic approach to balancing the diet has its most ancient roots in the Greek theory of the four bodily humors, which had to be balanced through the best choice of foods for an individual’s constitution. Today, the view that connects health and diet through a notion of harmony and balance is completed by the conviction that adequate rest and relaxation, including proper vacations from work, are important for health. As a complement to the maintenance of health through a balanced, harmonious diet, there is also a cachet (gel capsule), comprimé (tablet), or pillule (pill) designed, it seems, for every health problem, no matter how small. That France is a highly medicalized country is due in part to the provisions of the outstanding national medical care. Coverage allows patients to choose their physicians, and it gives physicians great freedom to prescribe medications and tests. Consumer awareness and the ongoing development of new pharmaceuticals, including those to treat complaints such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension that are relatively common in the aging population, further contribute to this trend.6

As in most affluent countries where people have an embarras du choix (a wealth of choice—or too many choices), problems related to eating too much are on the rise. Conditions associated with an overabundant diet combined with a sedentary lifestyle, notably obesity, are becoming

Diet and Health


more prevalent. In 2006, INSERM, the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale or National Institute for Health and Medical Research, estimated that 1 of every 10 children is obese by the age of 10, twice the figure measured in 1980.7 Categorizations of weight as “normal,” “excessive,” and so on derive from the IMC or indice de masse corporelle (BMI or body mass index) established by the World Health Organization’s International Obesity Task Force. The IMC is a ratio calculated to evaluate a person’s weight status. It is defined as weight in kilograms, divided by the square of the height measured in meters. According to this ratio, overweight is defined as having an IMC of greater than 25; an IMC greater than 30 indicates obesity. In France as in the United States, putting on excess weight often results from the addition of snacks to the schedule of regular meals8; from eating for reasons such as boredom or stress, rather than hunger; from eating large quantities of sugar in sweets, processed foods, and sodas; and from a lack of adequate physical activity. Physicians and researchers observe higher incidences of gastric and intestinal disorders, diabetes, sleep apnea, and other conditions associated with excess weight. Overconsumption may bring or manifest psychological stresses, as well, especially as contemporary ideals of beauty for both men and women require a slender ligne (figure). Pathological behaviors related to eating and having psychological causes, such as anorexia and bulimia, slowly increase, along with the sale of weight loss products first developed in the United States and now infiltrating the French market. The progress of afflictions related to overconsumption, although alarming, is slower in France than in many other nations. This is due to the strong traditions of the family meal, to the sense of ceremony that accompanies eating, and to the fact that many families continue to cook regular meals at home and to take regular meals when dining out. In the last decade, the state has adopted an interventionist mode, encouraging, and even requiring, preventive measures as part of regular health care. A carnet de santé (health notebook) is established for each child at birth. The notebook is used to monitor preventable conditions throughout childhood. Doctors note such information as the dates of required vaccinations, any instance of dental decay, and domestic accidents. Since 1995, the notebooks contain a courbe de corpulence (corpulence curve) to track the child’s weight relative to a normal estimate for development based on the body mass index. A departure from the normal range on the curve sounds the alert. For cases of weight gain, doctors advise a modest reduction in portion size to be observed over the long term, avoidance of sweets and eating between meals, and

Although most edibles are purchased at grocery stores. and regional particularity. respond well to these ideals. humans began to tinker with the natural selection of characteristics in plants and animals through hunting and gathering. an OGM is a plant or animal that has received genetic material from a different kind of plant or animal. Long before the development of sophisticated techniques for breeding and hybridization. corn. however. the term OGM refers to transgenic alterations. At present worldwide. Human interference with the genetic makeup of foods is traceable to prehistoric times. the cheeses that they carefully craft from raw (unpasteurized) milk.164 Food Culture in France the encouragement of physical activity such as walking and playing outdoors. The French are notorious defenders of the salubriousness and unbeatable savor of. artisanal methods. a feature of organic farming. People want the foods that they purchase and eat to be natural and unadulterated for the purpose of commerce or convenience. Most genetically modified crops are grown (since 1994) in the United States. they want to know the origins of what they eat. That people pay more for organic items suggests the additional ethical interest in supporting ecologically sustainable and nonpolluting methods of agriculture. traceable to a specific place and an individual producer. Ideally. Terroir and the AOC label. Where these and later practices result in modifications within single species. as well as affordable. FOOD SAFETY The safety of the food supply and the reliability of the federal and European governments in its regulation are contemporary preoccupations. The biggest bugbears are OGM or organismes génétiquement modifiés (GMOs or genetically modified organisms) and other corporate industrial agricultural practices such as the use of antibiotics and growth hormones in meat. the most common transgenic foodstuffs and crops are soybeans. and cotton that contain genes from bacteria providing resistance to herbicides (allowing for or requiring the use of pesticides) or insects (providing resistance to pests). where most processed foods for sale contain ingredients from a genetically modified . The notion of purity at work here should not be confused with the equally important matter of hygiene or cleanliness. That is. for instance. thus pure. The expanding market for domestic and imported produits biologiques (organic items) indexes the concern to eat the natural foods that are believed to be the healthiest. procuring fresh food directly from a farmer remains an ideal. herding and agriculture. with their references to quality.

AB stands for Agriculture biologique or organically raised meat. the European market closed to imported beef raised on growth hormones. In 1998. should other crops accidentally be contaminated by a stray seed or by pollen. the human variant of BSE or bovine spongiform encephalopathy. rather than pink.10 Veterinary inspectors make regular visits to slaughterhouses. and environmentally harmful— combines with abiding suspicion of the state’s commitment to protect people. Some of the feed was contaminated. transgenic foods are rare in Europe. In France and the European Union. As in the case of wine. In 1996. natural food supply in a manner that is also ethical and ecologically sustainable. administering growth hormones to animals destined to be sold for meat is illegal. designed to produce truly white. The strong reaction in France and Europe to these incidents and practices helps to explain regulations currently in force. and the farmers who grow them are responsible for indemnities. As tens of thousands of cows were put to death. Since the late 1970s. which in fact largely follow the French system of controls that . protest. cows on industrial farms were being fed the remains of other slaughtered cows. Recent statutes regarding animals and meat give a sense of the strong interest in maintaining a safe.9 The pervasive mistrust of transgenic foods and industrial farming practices—viewed as unnatural. and the European Union is currently financing studies to understand the harmful effects of hormones and also antibiotics in meat. such as sheltering young calves from the light. That is. the French system was modified to conform to European regulations.11 Laws enacted in the 1990s multiplied the quality-control labels for meat. This transpired shortly after the first known death (in 1995) in the United Kingdom from CreutzfeldtJacob disease. flesh. the European Union included a clause in the Treaty of Amsterdam that requires member states to protect the welfare of animals as sentient beings. and debate. the spread of the disease was traced to the cannibalistic practice in industrial agriculture of recycling animal waste as feed. cargo loads of American transgenic soy arrived in France. the AOC label indicates a typical. In 1997. and other changes have been enacted. as well as a standard of quality. such as in the form of bone meal. France grows only a few hundred hectares of genetically modified crops. The Label Rouge (red label) and Certificat de Conformité (quality standards certificate) indicate high grades of meat. European Union regulations now prohibit oldfashioned methods for raising le veau sous la mère (milk-fed veal). In 1999. unhealthy. Two incidents that occurred in the mid-1990s provoked extraordinary social mobilization. and as more people died including in France.Diet and Health 165 crop. By contrast. For instance. regional product. animals raised for milk and meat have been carefully tracked.

Richard.166 Food Culture in France was already in place. Europe began again to approve transgenic crops for importing. then. 1998).13 In 2004.5 percent of nonauthorized OGM for the European market) be indicated on labels for food and animal feed. 2006). Sandrine Blanchard. follows the principe de précaution (precautionary principle) regarding transgenic modification. the date by which it is best consumed. as testing of old applications continued. J. Despite the legal ambiguity. by the labeling rules that make their presence transparent and that make transgenic products traceable. transgenic crops and foods must be proven safe before they are made available to farmers and consumers. L’exception culinaire française (Paris: Albin Michel. the place of origin of the animal. According to the precautionary principle. maintain a remarkably vigilant attitude.” Le Monde (March 9. In October 2003. The blanket bans on genetically modified foods have been superseded. Since 2000. The year 2001 saw the creation of the AFSSA or Agence française de sécurité sanitaire des aliments (French Agency for Food Sanitation and Security) to protect consumer interests. European rules began to require that the presence even of a small quantity of transgenic organism (0. which is responsible for regulation.” Archives des Maladies du Coeur et des Vaisseaux 80 (April 1987): 17–21. however. “Les facteurs de risque coronarien: Le paradoxe français. Serge . Many people. and unlike the United States. France. and keen to protect the rich traditions of agriculture and artisanal production.9 percent of authorized and 0. few people are willing to buy transgenic foods. 3. cooking and eating that define living well à la française. “Les Français consomment moins d’alcool et de tabac. 2. effectively putting an end to the old moratorium. and identifying information for the slaughterhouse where it was killed and processed. L. implemented a ban on the sale of any new bioengineered crops. People remain aware of the sway that corporate and trading interests exert on the government. NOTES 1. including France. the European Court of Justice continues to back countries that wish to ban genetically modified crops if they can demonstrate a health risk. with the burden of proof for safety resting on producers. 136. seven member states. Against the rulings of other authorities such as the European Commission. like Europe. Alexandre Lazareff. including specialized consumer interest groups.12 The current stance regarding OGM is slightly ambiguous. In 1998. meat sold prepackaged in supermarkets carries an identifying ticket indicating the cut of meat.

8. http://www. eds. Ethics. 13. Paul Rozin. and Christy Shields. 225 in Barbara Herr Harthorn and Laury Oaks.” Le Monde (March 21.” pp. . Le Régime Santé (Paris: Éditions Odile Jacob. 6. Notes et études documentaires 5166 (Paris: La Documentation Française.” The Lancet 339 (1992): 1523–26.inserm. Céline Granjou. Kimberly Kabnick. consommation et publicité télévisée. 10. and Serge Renaud. Jean-Pierre Poulain. eds. Monique Dagnaud. Marie-Emmanuelle Chessel. “Risk. 12. CT: Praeger. “Genetically Modified Foods: Shared Risk and Global Action. Sociologies de l’alimentation (Paris: PUF. Chessel. “Monsanto élabore les OGM de demain. and Health Ineqality (Westport. “Obésité des jeunes” (May 2006). 182–98 in Alain Chatriot. 5 (September 2003): 450–54. 2003). no. Au nom du consommateur (Paris: Découverte. 1995).fr/. institutions et politiques publiques en France (1972–2003).” Psychological Science 14.” p. 12 and 55–67. Chessel. 179 in Chatriot.” p. 1989): 39–46 and “Wine. and Matthew Hilton. and Hilton. 196. platelets. étiquetage et émergence du ‘citoyenconsommateur’: l’exemple des OGM. 2002) and Manger aujourd’hui (Toulouse: Privat.” p.. 11. Hervé Morin. 208 in Chatriot. Claude Fischler. 9. 4. and Public Space: The Impact of BSE and Foot-and-Mouth Disease on Public Thinking. de Lorgeril. 2004). 7. 5. Francesca Bray. “The Ecology of Eating: Smaller Portion Sizes in France Than in the United States Help Explain the French Paradox.” in Harthorn and Oaks. “Qui défend le consommateur? Associations. Sophie Chauveau. Culture.Diet and Health 167 Renaud and M. Erin Pete. “Dietary lipids and their relation to ischaemic heart disease: From epidemiology to prevention. alcohol. and the French paradox for coronary heart disease. “Traçabilité. 2002). 2003). 2006). Enfants.” Journal of Internal Medicine 225 (Supplement 1. Jo Murphy-Lawless. “Malades ou consommateurs? La consommation de médicaments en France dans le second XXe siècle. and Hilton. Alain Chatriot. Risk..


flaky. Also a café or coffee shop. Apéritif A drink taken before lunch or dinner and served with finger food such as nuts. Bouquet garni A bundle of fresh herbs dropped into broths and soups to lend flavor during cooking. served as a composed salad for the first course of a meal. Cantine Canteen or cafeteria. Biscuits Cookies. Déjeuner Lunch. mid-day meal. especially pork. Crudités Raw vegetables. or appetizers. Digestif Drink served after a meal. Baguette Long. Café au lait Coffee with hot milk drunk at breakfast. Café A small. slim crusty loaf of bread. strong coffee. Charcuterie Cured meat products. Boulangerie Bread bakery and shop. chips.Glossary Amuse-bouche Appetizer. Croissant Buttery. Collation Mid-morning snack for children. crescent-shaped breakfast pastry. . such as hams and sausages.

also the cheese course of a meal. A great delicacy. Potage Soup. Viande Meat. Poisson Fish. after the entrée. Plat Main course of a meal. such as spaghetti or elbow macaroni.170 Glossary Dîner Dinner. Réveillon Late festive meal served on Christmas Eve and on New Year’s Eve. Lard Fresh bacon used in cooking. Vinaigrette Oil and vinegar dressing. also the pastry bakery and shop. Pâte Pastry dough or bread dough. such as butter or jam. . evening meal. like a pie with a bottom crust only. Pâtisserie Pastry. the plat is the second course. Tisane Herbal tea. Fromage Cheese. Pain au chocolat Croissant filled with chocolate. Merguez Spicy beef or lamb sausage. Entrée The first course of a meal. Petit-déjeuner Breakfast. Frites French fried potatoes. usually meat. Goûter Afternoon snack for children. Tarte Tart. Tourte Tart covered with a top crust and usually having a savory filling. Foie gras Fattened liver of a canard (duck) or oie (goose). Tartine Bread spread with something. such as a cooked salad. Stockfisch Salted dried codfish. Dragée Sugar-coated almond or Jordan almond. or infusion. Pâtes Pasta.

AND OFFICES Centre de Recherche pour l’Étude et l’Observation des Conditions de Vie (CREDOC) Research Center for the Study and Observation of Living Conditions Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) National Institute of Agronomic Research Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) National Institute of Health and Medical Research http://www. ORGANIZATIONS.Resource Guide WEB Chef Simon Commission Européenne European Commission Institut Européen d’Histoire et des Cultures de l’Alimentation (IEHCA) European Institute of Food History and Cultures Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) National Institute of Denominations of Origin http://www.

education.gouv. L’Aile ou la cuisse (1976) by Claude Zidi.172 Resource Guide Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques (INSEE) National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies http://www. Ministère de la Santé et de la Protection Sociale Ministry of Health and Social Protection http://www. Philippine (1963) by Jacques Recipes http://marmiton.agriculture.gouv.gouv. Une affaire de goût (2000) by Bernard Rapp. La Bûche (1999) by Danièle Ministère de la Culture Ministry of Culture http://www. Carnages (2002) by Delphine Gleize. Le Boucher (1970) by Claude Ministère de l’Agriculture et de la Pêche Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing http://www. saveurs et traditions FILMS Adieu. Alimentation générale (2005) by Chantal Ministère de l’Éducation Nationale Ministry of National Education MAGAZINES Chefs et saveurs L’Hôtellerie Néorestauration Omnivore Papilles 60 Millions de consommateurs Vins. Au Bon Beurre (1952) by Jean Dutourd.

Manon des sources (1953) by Marcel Pagnol and version of (1986) by Claude Berri. Nénette et Boni (1996) by Claire Denis. Le joli mai (1962) by Chris Marker. Masculin / Féminin (1966) by Jean-Luc Godard. Le Festin de Babette [Babettes Gaestebud] (1987) by Gabriel Axel. . La Grande bouffe (1973) by Marco Ferreri. La Cuisine au beurre (1963) by Gilles Grangier. Les Quatre cents coups (1959) by François Truffaut. Au Petit Marguery (1995) by Laurent Bénégui. Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran (2002) by François Dupeyron. Chocolat (1988) by Claire Denis. Delicatessen (1991) by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. La Traversée de Paris (1956) by Claude Autant-Lara. Mon oncle (1958) by Jacques Tati. Décalage horaire (2002) by Danièle Thompson. Mondovino (2004) by Jonathan Nossiter.Resource Guide 173 Chacun cherche son chat (1996) by Cedric Klapisch. Cuisine et dépendances (1993) by Philippe Muyl. 37°2 le matin (1986) by Jean-Jacques Beineix. Mille et une recettes d’un cuisinier amoureux (1996) by Nana Dzhordzadze. Touchez pas au grisbi (1954) by Jacques Becker. Les Stances à Sophie (1970) by Moshé Mizrahi. Jean de Florette (1986) by Claude Berri. Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse (2000) by Agnès Varda. La Femme du boulanger (1938) by Marcel Pagnol. Vatel (1990) by Roland Joffé. Le Week-end (1967) by Jean-Luc Godard. Le Chagrin et la pitié (1972) by Marcel Ophüls. Métisse (1993) by Mathieu Kassovitz. Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie (1972) by Luis Buñuel.


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13 animal welfare. 73 Appert. 152 almond.Index absinthe. 88–90. 156. 164–66 AFSSA (Agence française de sécurité sanitaire des aliments). 35–37. 139 À la recherche du temps perdu (Proust). Council of. 4 anchoïade. 73. 163 Anthimus. recipe. 1. 165 anise. 6 . 132 aïoli. 60. 18. 3–7. 41. 32. 33–34. 70–71 aqueduct. 77 Algeria. 61 allec. 53 adulteration. 120. 121 apple. 43–44. 11. 33. 6. 18–28 angelica. 166 Agde. 77. 10–13. 148. 3. 66 ancien régime. 23. 158–59. 139 anchovies. 148–49 Apicius. stewed. 6. 48. 156. 150. 77. 61. 12. 155–56. 161 alcoholism. 47. See also dragée Alsace. 126. 165 aperitif. 86 appliances. 16. 11. 160 apricot. 72. 162–64 accras. 38. 66. 6 All Saints’ Day. 112–13. 52. 62. 77–78. 139 Americas. 17–18. 8. 23 AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée). 11 apiculture. 5 Aquitaine. 17–18 amphora. 140 Aigues-Mortes. 77–78 abundance. 70–71. 156 ale. Nicolas. 8 Antilles. 9 agriculture. 12 arbutus. 147 anorexia nervosa. 129 alcohol. recipe. 7. 59 L’Aile ou la cuisse (Zidi). 141 anniversary. 164–66 aïgo-boulido. 2. 4. 106–7. 75 Angevins. 71. 120.

6. 2. 83. des Causses. 43 banana. 70 banquet. 133 basil. 8 authenticity. 4. 149 barding. 72 berry. 13. 13. 152 Belgium. 46. 2 beef. 52 brains. 159–60 bacon. 138–41. 13. 121–22. 30 artichoke. 93. 165–66 beer. 114. 16. 65 baeckeoffe. 27. 10. 143 aurochs. 2. 18 Bonnefons. 52. 147–48 biscuit. 22. 3. 11. sausage. 50. Nicolas de. 51–52 boulangerie. 3. 12 Beauvilliers. Roland. 19.186 Arles. 23 Benedict of Nursia. 10–11. 47 boarding house. 49 brandade de morue. 132 bouillabaisse. 113–14 Bleu d’Auvergne. 1. 128 blanc. 66 baguette. 149. 32–33. 95 Boileau. 71 baby food. Étienne.). 144 army (food). Charles. 50 barley. 144 Ash Wednesday. 126 Auvergne. 70–71 bêtise de Cambrai. 2. 16 Boileau. 92 Astérix. 1. 14. 72 Biarritz. 9 Benin. 6. See bread bakers. 47. 75 asparagus.S. 119–20. 8–11. Antoine. 64. 67 Association des Maîtres cuisiniers de France. 66. 53 . 5. 3 Athenaeus. 146–47 bar. 57. 60 beach food. 19. 62 bass. 6 Aucassin et Nicolette. Jacques. 119–21 beet. 35–36 Borel. 13. 13. 48 blueberry. 52 Bastille Day. 65 beignet. 1 Ausonius. 151 avocado. 8. Paul. 85 berlingot. 120. 124 Art de bien traiter (L. 144. 11. 143–44 Asia. 7. 2 bistro. 62. 157 Beaune. 7 Barthes. 43 bay leaf. recipe. 142. 6. 135. 2. 58 Attila the Hun. 163 boar. 118 bouquet garni. 139 asceticism. 120 bagna cauda. 4. 8. Nicolas. Decimus Agnus. 3–4. 134. 6. 14 Bocuse. 96. 11. 7. 18. 27. 77. 143–44 Baudelaire. 77 barrel. 128–29 barbecue. 135 bean. 60 bourgeoisie. 17. 17 Bordeaux. 149–50 Index Battle of Fat and Lean. 62. 8–11. 27 beaver.R. 66. 17. 70 BMI (body mass index). 51. 120 Avignon. 60 Basque country. 19 Art de la cuisine française au 19e siècle (Carême). 6. 24. 4. 30 bourride. 13. 66 blanquette. 11. 3. 4 Atlantic Ocean. 57 blood: in civet de lapin. 5 Armistice Day. 20–22. 6. 121 birthday. 144. 17.

18. 16 chard. 65 Cabécou. 8. 13. 144. 112 brewery. Julius. 73. 13. 54. 65. 6 Burgundy. 120 bread. 12–13. 77 cardiovascular disease. 58. Marie-Antoine. 24. 151 cannibalism. 131. 2. 32–33. 41–43. 96 cassis. 97 broiling. 23. 57 Brillat-Savarin. Samuel de. 22. 1 celery. 60 carbonade. 51. Café de Flore. 162 brasserie. 143 cabbage. 73. 6. 127–28. 10–12 . 145 caraway. 17 La Chanson de Roland. 3 cauliflower. 69 Chantilly. seed. 141–42 breakfast. 6 Celts. 29 Brittany. 156. crêpes. 163 Burgundians. 121–24 cake. 1. 54. 28 BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy). 147. 76 cassoulet. 120. 157 caterer. 34. 12–14 Charlemagne. 149 charcutier. 146 caramel. 140–41 charity. 56–57 caper. 6. 11. 143 187 candy. 49. 12 chanterelle. 159 Brie de Meaux. cotton. 62 Camembert. 26–27. 127–28. 3. 66. 165 Cantal. 11 capon. 6. 78 Camargue. 7. 22. 162 cardoon. 119. 29–30. 139 buckwheat. 49 calisson d’Aix. 108–11. 57 carrot. root. Café Procope. 72–73. 151–52 canned food. 67 cave painting. 3. 72 calvados. 3. 65. 16. 103–4. 47–48. 4 café. 134.Index brandy. 65. 62 bulimia. 62. 106–7 bream. 64. 67 brochette. 11. 120. 151–52 Carolingians. 14. 147 Champlain. 11–12 Capitulare de villis vel curtis imperii (Charlemagne). 140 Carême. 77. 49. recipe. 4. 3. 4. Jean Anthelme. 57. 144. 165 bûche de Noël. 10–12 carp. 3 Capetians. 13. 157. 44. 77. 77 cena. 26 cattle. 62. 57 Candlemas. 25–26. 24 cafeteria. 145 Carnival. 3–4. 52 breastfeeding. 26. recipe. 13. 143–44. 121. 76. 14 butcher. 121–22 Cannes. 131. 77 broccoli. 162 Champagne. 84. 34 Caesar. See also brasserie Britain. 21 charcuterie. 5 chamomile. 25 butter. 56 Cadet de Gassicourt. 138–39. 66. 62–63 bulgar. 6. 105. 107. 149 calf’s head. 162 carving. 52 Carré de l’Est. 146 Catholicism. 92. 11. 4. Brasserie Lipp.

19–20. 32. 50–51 conversation. 50 Civil Law Code. 17 Cosquer. 156–57 couscous. 71. 70. 4. 72 chèvre. 18 cream. 2–3. 33. 12. 7. 78. 144. 77 cinnamon. 145 corn. 27–28. 27 clam. 56. 112–15. 61 clove. 91–100 cherry. recipe. 6. 156–57 convivium. 54. 161 citron. 66. 22. 78 Index colonies. 16 critic (food). candied. 107–10. 105–6. 87–90. 74. 145–46 Christianity. 1. 2. 103. 157 Corsica. 17–18 Columbus. 143. 6. 157 chrism. 159–61 China. 159. 53. 52–53. 71. 119. 71 cranberry. 13. 71 civet de lapin. salted. 3. recipe. 131. 64. 56–57 chicken. 65 childbirth. 99–100 croissant. 13. 61–62. 78 chausson. See also beef crab. 58–59. 134. 9. 75 chiffonnade. 27. 97–99. 119. 10 christening. 1 Côte d’Azur. 131–32. 19. 135. Christopher. 49–54. Hernando. 160 conviviality. 59. 143. 63–69. 121. recipe. 64. 87 cookie. 162 Cointreau. 119 croquembouche. 15. 9. sour. 62 coronary disease. 2. 5. 44. 156. 6. 120. 85 chitterling. 95 cocktail. 127. 111. 74. 58 chef. 13. 66. 45–47. 148–49 cod. 145 . 13. 69. 162 cooking school. 16. buckwheat. 105. 75. 138. 145 compote. 23. 160 chickpea. 22. 89–91 cookbook. 158. 56–58. 139 Club des Cent. 7. 60 chestnut. 15. 68. 15. 53 Clermont-Ferrand. 6 chervil. 159 children’s meals. 131 Columbian exchange. 144 Cortès. 129. 48 chive. 30. 49. brûlée. 118. 14–15. 77–78. 96–97. 2. 75.188 Chartreuse. dried. 6. 106–8. apple. 147. 30. 107–8 Cognac. 42. 17–18. 129–30 cooking methods. puffs. 72. 112. 145 communion. 17 comfit. recipe. 13. 8. 22–24. 112–13. 160 cholesterol. 73 Chauvet. break. 8–12 Christmas. 73. 118 chicory. 115 confectionary. 24. 130 cow. 68. 60–61 chocolate. 60–61. 6. 28–29. 11. 62–63 Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease. 59. 69. 139 cirrhosis. fraîche. 72–73 confit (de canard and d’oie). 13. 138–39 coffee. 30. 59. 91–92 coriander. 88. 72–73. 13. 65 crème: anglaise. 165. 19–20. 86 condiment. 5 cook. 165 Crieries de Paris (Guillaume de Villeneuve). 53 courses (of a meal). 1 cheese. 11. 73. 146–47. 9. 2. 65 crêpes. 56. 15. 137–42 cider.

156–57 Father’s Day. See venison Deipnosophistae (Athenaeus). 162 Dijon. 6. 59. 1. 11. 113. 109–11. 26 Emmental. 3. 19 Le Cuisinier roïal et bourgeois (Massialot). See hunger farming. 50–51. 3. 65. See agriculture farm subsidy. 9–10. 82. Benjamin. See also regions deer. 70–71 . 70. 26. 6. 85 cuisine gastronomique. 147 eggplant. 10 daube. 56 Croze. 22 education (taste). 77–78 dog. 96. 1 elderberry. 69 Dom Perignon. red. 19 distilling. 12–13. 23 Eucharist. 23 demi-deuil. 125–26. 82 disguise (in cooking). 138–42. 66 festival. 25 Dieppe. des Arts et des Métiers (Diderot). Ministry of Education. Augustin. 66 Enlightenment. 52. 64 feast. 145–46 duck. ou de l’Éducation (Rousseau). 151–52 famine. 149 crusades. 139 dragée. 114 decentralization. 5. 131–32 fasting. 54 dairy products. 15. 6. 64 Crottin de Chavignol. 61 Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Sailland). 156. 143–44 fat. 150–52 feudalism. 37–38. 5. 142 Époisses. 95–97 Le Cuisinier (Pierre de Lune). 19. 165–66 fair. 6. 69. goose and duck. 153 fava. 143–44. 103–5. 22 cumin. 137–39. 32 fennel. 143–44 189 L’École parfaite des officiers de bouche. 51. 145–47 diabetes. 19 La Cuisinière bourgeoise (Menon). 3. 8–9 European Union. 108–9 eel. 5 Encyclopédie. 10. 77 cucumber.Index croquette. 13 digestif. 22 Le Cuisinier françois (La Varenne). 13. Denis. See banquet La Femme du boulanger (Pagnol). 164–65 Ethiopia. 125 crudité. 4 Delessert. 69 dessert. 73 dinner. 70. 57 Escoffier. 24–27 Epiphany. 70 cuttlefish. 121–22 ethics. 25–26 endive. See PAC (Politique agricole commune) fast food. ou Dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences. 23. 112–15 discount store. 11. recipe. 155–56 date. 55–58. 49–51 Easter. 69–75. 1. Auguste. 67–68. 121–22. 31. 77–78. 57 emmer. 163 Diderot. 66 cuisine du marché. 59. 9. 26. 20. 68 Einhard the Frank. 71 Émile. 66. 2. 11–14 fig. 46. 17. 124–25 currant: black. 52 egg. 11 einkorn.

28–29. 66. 23 guava. 159 fishing. 54. 58 gourd. 5. 70 gamelle. 134 Grimod de la Reynière. 8 gougères. 71 Grasse. 93 . 51–52 flammekeuche. 18. 12. 13. recipe. 130–31 fork. 120 flan. 1. 144 Le Gobeur d’oursins (Picasso). 2. juice. 2. 4. 16 Gaul. 112 gâteau de riz. 68 flour. 6. 112. 6–8. 125 Gauls. 132 foreign cuisines.190 fines herbes. 71. 82–83 fruit. 3. 74 grape. 160 funeral. 5–8 game. See Battle of Fat and Lean le fooding. 56 Gaulle. 138. 17 Guérande peninsula. 5 gourmandise. 5. 78. 18 goat. Michel. 147 Galen. 122 garbure. 50–51. 3. 24. 34. 19 Gargantua (Rabelais). 25–26. 15. 2–3. 44 grapefruit. 135. 1 food fight. 5. Charles de. 8–9 goose. 2. 114. 53 God and gods. 112 GMO (genetically modified organism). 157 Font-de-Gaume. 12 French East India Company. 49–51 gooseberry. 11. 106. 140. 64 garden (kitchen). 159 fouacier. 131 fromage blanc. 147. 5. Nicolas. 156. Henri. 51–53. 3. 146. 97 gentian. 126 fish. 6. 21 formula (baby). 3. 57 Guadeloupe. 13. 59 gluttony. 69–71. 48–49 garlic. 112. 126. 17. 11. 56. 78 Germans. 13. 6. 11 Gascony. 13 Franks. 6. 6–8 gin. 8. 8. 3. 119. 5–8. 133–34 Ford. 27–30. 19. Henry. soup. 6. 74 François I. See snack grain. 75 Greeks. 20. 23 French fries. 47. 140 Index garum. 141. 107. 76 grilling. 164–66 Goa. 58 Guérard. 142 Gallo-Romans. 29. 138. 9. 8 galette des Rois. candied. 4. 13 gastronomy. See Celts Gault. 138 Grand-Marnier. 62 gaufrier. 71 Goscinny. 9. 135 French paradox. 43 foie gras. 159 frozen food. 16 fougace. Claude. 99 Gruyère de Comté. 78 granité. 6. 47. 20–21 Framboisine. 120. 111 frog. 25–26. 78 ginger. 10–12 French (language). 2. 60–61. 3 Goths. 112 goûter. 159–60. 97. 157 French toast. 60 Fischler. 63. 145 grenadine. 75 Fouquet. recipe.

73 immigrant cuisines. 13. 33 infusion.Index guide (restaurant). 160 hare. 1. 71 jelly. 13 hops. 65. 152–53 hollandaise. 149–50. 74 jam. 58 île flottante. 85 Halloween. 67. 19 lavender. 159 Honfleur. 11 hypertension. François Pierre de. 157–58. 26 juniper berry. 122. 3. 146 gurnard. 6. 26 hunter-gatherer. 66 harissa. 124–26. 75 house-warming. 160–64 heart. 150–52. 71 Israel. 16. 135. 11. 71 Jerusalem artichoke. 11. 19. 156–57. 163 Isère. 1. 49. Johann. 4. 8. 74. 46–47 horseradish. 76. 61 John Dory. 10 haute cuisine. 115 hostel. 152 hake. 6. public. 70. 14 INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique). 158–59 hospitality. 160. 156–57. 2. 49 kiwi. 71 . 145. 12–14. 52 Jordan almond. 7. 70 knight. 73 Henri IV. 4. 60. 5. 129. 130. 57–58. See brochette kidney. 123. 6. 162 harvest. 60. 137–45. 11–12 lamb. 50 haricot. 23 herb. 96 guild. 14 hot chocolate. 17 Jews. 49. 97–99. 157 lard. 11. 48. 149 hunger. 6. 46. 2. 1. 78 kebab. 77 horse. 7. 52 ham. 6. 6. 26–27. 118. 65 hospital. 50. 60 heritage: 109–10. 93 INSERM (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale). 4. 85 India. See cuisine gastronomique hazelnut. 66–67 honey. 135 Île de Ré. 78 herbes de Provence. 47–48 Lascaux. 64. 85 Italy. 52 Gutenberg. 12. 1 hunting. 124–25 Le Guide culinaire (Escoffier). 61 harmony. 144 Languedoc. 28. 8–9. 19. 43. 72 health. 54 lardon. 49 hedgehog. 13. 58–60. 34. 9–10. 139. 12. 5 holidays. 14–15 Guinea fowl. 6. 73. 162 191 ice cream. 162 inn. 105. national. See dragée Julie. 18. 161 herring. 113. 75 industrialization. 61–62. 83–84 Guillaume de Tirel (Taillevent). 120. ou la Nouvelle Héloïse (Rousseau). 30–31. 15 Les Halles. 67. 75. 53 Hippocrates. 1 La Varenne. 46 hydromel. 130–31 import.

11 millet. 99–100. 162 Mediterranean diet. 93. 10–11 Le Mesnagier de Paris. 95. 5. 20–23 Louis XVI. 2. 27 lovage. 52 McDonald’s. 18 Millau. 143 Martini. 11. Christian. 13. 23 marzipan. 141 Menon. 49. 6. 160 millasse. 94–95 merguez. 143–44 lentil. 77 maize. 60 Le Havre. 71 Lent. 156 Mediterranean Sea. 62 Leclerc. Pierre de. 94–95. 10. 23. 65–66 liberalism. 128 Mercier. 108–11. 4. See corn malbouffe. 162–63 Molière. 34. 1. 121–22. 120 mace. 18 Louis XVIII. 151 Merovingians. 22 menu. 51–54.192 layer cake. 70–71. 10. 66. 97 miller. 73.. 28 Mexico. 150 Marseille. 3. 132 meat. 38 life expectancy. 22 Michelin guide. 85. 9. 31 lettuce. 59 Meilleur Ouvrier de France. 6. 27. André. 57. 159–60. 4. 18 Lot-et-Garonne. 59 mâche. 146 Loire River. 18. 139 Massialot. complaint. See also foie gras Livre des métiers (Étienne Boileau). 125 malt. 2. 129–30 Maine. 129. 16 lobster. 52 Lorraine. 13 lemon. 27–28. 77 monastery. 25. 23. 9. Frédéric. 2. 10 mint. 135 miracle. 15 metric system. 6. 60 Index market. 129. 66 mackerel. 147 Lune. 73. marsh. 76. 77 mayonnaise. star rating in. 26 les Mères. 152 Malraux.S. 162 liqueur. 20. 70 Louis XIV. 76–78. 134.R. 21–22 Monaco. 24 marjoram. 71 linden. 6 L. 156–57 Lille. 14 . 9. 53 madeleine. Édouard. 8. 48. 6. 77–78 liver. 11 mise en place. 6. 53. 78 Martinique. 165–66 media. 19 lunch. 122. Pierre Carlet de. 145 milk. 76. 3–5. 157–59. 157 medicine. 13. 55. provisionary. 64 Le Play. 9. 100 Middle Ages. 82 leek. 3. 2. See Marseille Mauresque. 113. 23. 22 Massilia. 66. 147 Lebanon. 103–5. 155–57. 20 moderation. recipe. 55–56. 13. 11. 161 mallow. 161. 45–51. 23. 30 lime. 12–16. 9. 19 Lyon. 13. 61. Louis-Sébastien. 92 melon. 124–25. 6. 111. 77 Marivaux.

109–10. 17–18. 12 oyster. 52 Munster. 120 Paris-Brest. 161 oats. 70. white. 13 obesity. 141. 112 mushroom. 10. 23. 59. 2. 162–64 De observatione ciborum (Anthimus). 1. 74. 151 nobility. 62. 6. 72. 118 pantner. 75. olive. 139. 11–12 North Sea. 52 oven. 14 papaya. 6. 70 Niaux. Gustav-Adolf. 38. 143 Nîmes. 10. 138 PAC (Politique agricole commune).Index Monbazillac. 97–98 Numidia. 18 Old Stone Age. 70 Netherlands. 6. 6. 16. 121 nationalism. 77 pan bagnat. 22–23. 5. 74. Auguste. 89 oxen. 16 oursinade. 53 Odoacer the Goth. 18 parsley. 8 Mossa. 53 nougat. 53. 139 orange flower water. 6. 85. 6 oeufs à la neige. 121 Napoléon III. 61–62. 8 octopus. 9. 141 orgeat. 1–2 New World food. 61. 115–16 Opéra. 139 panaché. 22 New Stone Age. 71. 17 Paris. 144–45 New Zealand. 4. 7. 73 Mulhouse. 3. 53. 9. 61. 57 morel. 146 Mons. 6. 120 onion. 26. 73. 1 olive. 120 mustard. 1 Nice. 14–15 noodle. 121. 30 mullet. 100 Mosella (Ausonius). 150 natural food. 19. 74 Orange. 73 offal. 11–12. 144 Mother’s Day. 67 New Year’s. 76 oubloyer. See also oil. 60. 69 Muslims. 57 Morbier. 54. 59 myrtle. 66. 77 Normans. 156. 61 Normandy. 27–28. 9 193 nut. 164–66 nectarine. 54–55. 120. 2. olive omelet. 141 nouvelle cuisine. 48–49 oil. 52. 145 nutmeg. 139 pasta. 160 . 78 monkfish. 3. 10. 8. 153 mousse au chocolat. 61. 139. 69 Morocco. 119 Ojibwa. 11. 50 Pas-de-Calais. 7. 74 Parmentier. 60. 1. 66. 118. 5–7. 57 Muscat. 6 Nantes. 156 pain au chocolat. 6 partridge. 143. 6 nun. 13 Napoléon I. 11. Hervé. 49 mussel. 35. 73 pain d’épices. 5 orange. 3. 112 monk. 59 nutrition. 71–72.

37 Proust. 65. 90 printing. 142. 120 peasant. 52 pleasure. 78 Persia. 1. 70. 10. 145 Le pâtissier royal parisien (Carême). 6 72 Index pistou. 12 pork. François. 6. 47–48. 139 Picasso. 17 potato. See heritage Le Paysan parvenu (Marivaux). 13. 17 pine nut. 4. 13. 112. 59. 1–4 preserves. 77–78. 2. 6 persillade.194 pasteurization. cured (see charcuterie) portion size. 17–19. 14 pineapple. 33 La Physiologie du goût (Brillat-Savarin). 134–35 pièce montée. 62 pomegranate. 72 pharmaceutical. 6. 6 pepper: bell. puff. 114 Pouligny-Saint-Pierre. 70. 114–15 pottery. 17–18. 70 peanut. 132 Procope. 3. 63–64 pot-au-feu. 6. 69. 59 peppercorn. 64. 24 pea. 166 pregnancy. chili. 126. 49. 65. green. 135 pear. 15. 12. 73–74. 46. 73 praline. 152 quail. 139. 49 Phocaeans. 25–26. Zaccharias. 70–71 pulse. 139–42 prune. 65. 129 Provence. 6. 112 plum. 53 picnic. 10. 3. 60 pizza. 74 pâtissier. Gregory III. 28–29. 52. 6. 1. 69 Pernod. 46. See Greeks phylloxera. 135 prawn. 13 plaice. 49–51 pound cake. 2. 75 Périgord. 59. 103. 104–5. 17. Leo III. 15. 60 pistachio. Pablo. 145 patrimony. 70 Pont-l’Évêque. 145–47 pig. 51. 66 peach. 161 pheasant. 107. 68. 119. 59 perfume. 15 processed food. 72. 110. 115 pike. 56 poultry. 9. 67–68. pigs’ feet. 64. 11–13. 132 plague. 70–71 polenta. 145 Le pâtissier pittoresque (Carême). 77 perroquet. Marcel. 17 petit-four. 57 pope: Eugenius IV. 29 Picardie. 69–74. 5. 6. 24 protectionism. 18. 72 pissaladière. 9. 157. 53 precautionary principle. 55 pastis. black. 70. 52 pilgrim. white. 3. 12. 71 pressure cooker. 55. Malagueta. long. 49 . 25. 47–48. 18. 1–2 poule-au-pot. 7. 47 population. Urban II. 60 Peru. 3. 158–59 prehistory. 32 pennyroyal. 118. 15. 64 pumpkin. 61–62. 6. 163 Portugal. 162 pastry. 17.

70 rabbit.Index quality: of food. 14–15. 165–66 Renaissance. 4. 132–33 rationing. 166 quatre épices. for ratatouille. 48. 150–52 regulation. 57 salad. 110–11. 22. 70–71 ratatouille. 125–26. 11 Romans. 11 refrigerator. 88. of life. 120 sausage. 62–63. François. 6. paste. 123 réveillon. 138 salon. 120. 60 saint. 65 salt. for galettes bretonnes. 59 Rabelais. 53 . 156–57. 74 roux. 52. 11. 68. 141–42. 8–9. 30–32. for soupe à l’oignon. 9. 62. 71. 8 sardine. 6 rye. Marcel. 121. 26–27. 13. 145 restaurant. 27. Sylvester. for madeleines. 6. 50. 65 scallop. 162 rosemary. 10. 59 quenelle. 89 regions. 119–21. 115–16 De re coquinaria (Apicius). 8. Sadalberga. 53 saucier. 87. 48–49 radish. 58–59. 75 rôtisseur. 74 Saint-Marcellin. 59 sage. 22. 58. 16 safety (food). 97 rowanberry. 3. 34–35. 70 rice. for aïgo-boulido. 109. 68 rationalization. 160 Salvian of Marseille. 134 sautéing. 13–17. Jean Jacques. Martin. 139. 11. 61. Nicholas. for compote de pommes. 10 rhubarb. 13. 2. for gougères. 30 Rouff. 71 raspberry. 60 rosewater. 26 Roussillon. for cabillaud à la portugaise. 6. 149 Rhine River. 38. recipe. 124–26. 93 rocket. 156 recipe. 74 sacrifice. 59. 144. 62. 140. 7. 6. 4–10. 124–28. 6. 65 raisin. 117. 52 Roman Empire. 112 Savarin. 145 Rome. 20. 10. 159. 112. 56–57 rose hips. 138–41 Revolution (of 1789). coupon. 62 195 sabayon. 60 Savoy cabbage. 98–100. 121 Robuchon. 48. 66 rockfish. 165–66. 104–5. 67. 57 savory. 35–37. for pompe à l’huile. 1. 156– 57. 86. 71 salmon. 19. 52. 3. 65–66. 147. 144–45 Saint-Honoré. 16 Rouen. 129– 30. 65. 91–96. Joël. 113– 14. 131–32. 122. César. 164–66 saffron. See also wild rice rillettes. 71 rue. 70–71. 52 quince. 8 Roquefort. 6. 14 sauerkraut. 52 Rousseau. for blanquette de veau. 119. 124 rouille. 3. 11. chains. 16. 8. 112 Ritz. 152 salsify.

107. Strasbourg Oath. Gall. 64 squab. 121. 6 sorbet. 111. ou l’Imposteur (Molière). 21–22 Taste Site. 62 spices. 118 socialism. 54 sugar. 124–25. 65 . 6. 147. 7. 75 spelt. 23–24 sunchoke. 159. 37. 141 split pea. 70–74. 124 tourism. en salle. 72–73. 17–18. 8 Third Republic. recipes. Frederick. 6. See Jerusalem artichoke supermarket. 32–34. Tatin. 53. 143–44 sickness. 10 stockfisch. 15. 75. 111–12. 17–19. 81–85 shrimp. 93 Serres. 96 serviceberry. beet. 6. 46 Taillevent. 112 Sévigné. 23 smoking. 53 steak-frites. 26 table d’hôte. 49 Tour de France gastronomique (Curnonsky and Rouff). 6. 46–47. 139 spinach. 76. 60 sheep. 112. 71 Shrove Tuesday. 3. 52–53 semolina. 65. 60 tart. 17. Alain. 132 tea. 22. 11 Index strawberry. 22–23. 125–26 testicle. 165 skate. 97. 159 supper. 160 sole. 2. recipes. 6. 58–60. 120 tartare. 160. 129 terroir. 120 sorb apple. 71. 52. 119. 2. 49 Theuderic. 6 shellfish. 67. 61. 30 soda. 120. 150–52 tourte aux blettes. 34–35. 120 tartine. 119 tabbouleh. 119 Tartuffe. 21 shallot. 156–57. 160. 70. 52 slave. See Guillaume de Tirel Talleyrand. 115–16. 115. 4. 88 Tomme de Savoie. 30. 49 Syria. 139 snipe. 25. 78 tomato. 145 searing. 163 snail. 25. 74 soup. 57. 14 Taylor. 49 squid. 147. 107. à la française. 20. 10. 60 tomate. 115 sustainability. 30 tarragon. 70 syrup. 76. 141. 140 sorrel. 88–89 Strasbourg. 66–67. 95. 98. 5. 71. 16. 119 snack. 57 tongue. 50 socca. 81–85. See under cod stove. 15. 104. 161–63. 65 Spain. 119. 23. 28.196 sculpture (sugar). 23. 18. 26 tagine. 62 Tableau de Paris (Mercier). 104. 70–71 street food. shop. 32. 72. 129. 1. Olivier de. 112 sea urchin. 78 sweetbread. 122–23 thyme. 164 Suze. 120. 34–35. 65. 30. 65–66. 53–54 shopping. 125 tavern. 54. 130 St. 159 Senderens. 118–19 suet. 3. à la russe. 28. 23 service: à l’assiette. 6 Seven Deadly Sins. 68. Mme de.

5.Index toxoplasmosis. 11. 52. 123 Vatel. 75 VAT (value added tax). Émile. Guillaume de. 6. 5 vermouth. 138 turnip. Claude. 17. 65–68. 134 vending machine. 162 vegetarian. 138. 4–6. Claude Uderzo. 89–90. 121–22. 86–87. FrancoPrussian War. 7. 108 venison. 71 wedding. 156 Trésor gastronomique de la France (Croze and Curnonsky). 16 vinaigrette. 71 war: Battle of Fat and Lean. 121. See also Fischler. 10–14. 143–44. 68 . 160. 155–56 water. 140. 156. 162 watercress. 3 UHT sterilization. recipe. 113–14 Véfour. 159 traceability. 21. 113–15 Week of Taste. 125. 23. 20–21 veal. 10. 24–25. 26. 52 Troyes. 98 Zidi. 162 young cuisine. 13. 61 turbot. 160 vacation. Michel. 118 Tunisia. Hundred Years War. 33–37. 49 Troisgros. 163 wrasse. 128–29. 65–66 vinegar. 85 verbena. 3. 14–15 vichyssoise. 3–5. 15 wheat. 56. 59. 85 zucchini. 4–5. 165. 165–66 trade. 8. 75 Visigoths. 49. 85 turkey. 6 197 waffle. 71. 8. 16 waiter. Second World War. 145–47 weekend. 46. 13. 2–5. 76 Vercingétorix. 45. 119. 5. 10–11. 5 Villeneuve. 94–95 woodcock. 20–21 Vaux-le-Vicomte. 17–18. 44. 159. 13. 158. 113. 150 transubstantiation. 23 Le Viandier (Guillaume de Tirel). 6. 164–66 urbanization. 52 wild rice. 93. 67–68. 98 trou normand. 61 whiting. 122. 16. 47 Le Ventre de Paris (Zola). 60 Vienne. 2. 59 violet. 6 truffle. 28. 1. 11. 78 Versailles. 50 worker. 69 tuna. 76. 109–10. 106. 37–38 train. 120–21 transhumance. First World War. 2. 125 tripe. 6 yogurt. 9 Trente glorieuses. 55 United States. 132 Zola. 65 UCO (Unidentified Comestible Object). 65 watermelon. 52 Turkey. 9. 4. 6. 157–59 women. Napoleonic Wars. 30–31 utensil. 18 wine. 97. recipe. François. 120. 96 walnut. 43–45. 27 vegetable. 162 vanilla. 161 whale. 1. 104. 31–32 World Health Organization. 78 trout. 126.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR JULIA ABRAMSON is Associate Professor of French at the University of Oklahoma. Norman. .

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